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3 llflfl OlOfiEt.75 M 


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DA B6S.Y6 

Young, Archibald, 18S0 or 

£ 1-1900 
Summer sa i 1 i ngs 

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The following cruises occupied several summer 
seasons a good many years ago. They were made 
in a cutter yacht of thirty-five tons, in which I 
sailed more than 7000 miles, going twice round 
Great Britain, visiting the Orkney and Shetland 
Islands, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, and also 
parts of Ireland, France, and Norway. An account 
of one or two of the cruises appeared in well-known 
magazines. But the whole of them are now pub- 
lished for the first time in a complete form ; and 
it is hoped that the numerous illustrations of 
picturesque localities, all taken from water-colour 
drawings made by me on the spot in the course 
of these cruises, will add something to the interest 
and value of the volume. The black and white 
illustrations were made from my drawings by 
Messrs. J. Munro Bell and Co. , Edinburgh ; and 


for • the coloured illustrations I am indebted to 
Messrs. R. S. and W. Forrest, Brandon Street 
Studio, Edinburgh, who first photographed the 
drawings, and then coloured them by hand after 
the original sketches. 


22 Royal Circus, 
Edinburgh, January 1898. 




North About — Cruise from Forth to Clyde 

Pleasures and advantages of a yacht cruise in summer to the remote 
Highlands and Islands of Scotland — Description of the yacht 
Spray — Town and Bay of Stromness — Loch of Stenness — Druidi- 
cal circle of Stenness — Ward Hill of Hoy — Three tall Standing Stones 
of Stenness — Kirkwall the capital of the Orkney Islands — Cathedral 
of St. Magnus — Earl Patrick's Palace — Former plenty and cheapness 
of oysters in Orkney — Depletion of the oyster-beds — Importance 
of restoring and protecting them — Dwarfie Stone, Hoy Head, and 
Old Man of Hoy — Peerie Sea and Kirkwall— Sail from Stromness 
Bay to Loch Emboli, and grand view of the precipices of Hoy Head 
— Picturesque view of entrance to Kyle of Tongue, with Ben Laoghal 
in the distance — Loch Emboli, a quiet and land-locked haven — Deten- 
tion in, for five days owing to stress of weather — Loch Hope and River 
— Excellent fishing in Loch Hope and River — Ben Hope — Description 
of the Smowe Cave — Cape Wrath — Long and picturesque range of 
lofty mountains extending from Ben Dearg, a few miles south of Cape 
Wrath, to Loch Ewe — Island of Handa — Description of Loch Maree — 
Town and Harbour of Portree — Storr Hill and Needle of Storr — 
Sligachan Inn and Sgurr nan Gillean— Glenelg — Loch Duich and 
Eilean Donan Castle — Falls of Glomack — Loch Hourn and Ben Sgroil 
— Sound of Sleat, Blaven, and the Coolins — Loch Sunart — Town and 
Bay of Tobermory — Loch Shiel, beauty and grandeur of its scenery 
— Details of fishing for several, seasons — Eilean Finnan, or Island of 
St. Finnan in Loch Shiel .... pages 1-49 



A Yacht Cruise through the Caledonian Canal 

No conveniences for being solitary and sulky on board a small yacht, so 
that a fund of good humour is the best sea-stock — Variety of scenery 
and sport in the Caledonian Canal — Elgin and Elgin Cathedral — 
Gordonstown, and the wizard Sir Robert Gordon — Spynie Castle for 
centuries the residence of the Bishops of Moray — Cromarty Firth 
and the Soutars of Cromarty — Cawdor Castle — Fine scenery between 
Fort George and the entrance to the Caledonian Canal — Glen 
Urquhart and Castle Urquhart — " Castle Urquhart visited," a serio- 
comic poem — Fall of Foyers — Ascent of Ben Nevis before the days 
of road and observatory — Glencoe and Loch Leven — Dunstaffnage 
Castle — Dunolly Castle and Oban — Loch Swin and Castle Swin 

pages 50-94 


A Yacht Cruise to the Head of Loch Etive 

Grandeur, variety, and beauty of the scenery around Loch Etive — Lower 
Loch between Dunstaffnage and Bunawe comparatively quiet and 
sylvan ; Upper Loch between Bunawe and Glen Etive wild and 
grand — Mountains on either side of Upper Loch Etive and above Glen 
Etive— Dangers of Connal Ferry and Rapids . pages 95-111 


A Yacht Cruise to Loch Hourn 

Number of picturesque sea-lochs indenting the western shores of Suther- 
land, Ross-shire, and Inverness-shire — Loch Hourn one of the most 
beautiful and inaccessible of these — -Noble outlines of Ben Screel, 
which sweeps down in grand curves to the waters of Loch Hourn and 
seems to guard the entrance — Small rocky island at foot of Ardna- 
murchan Point ; legend regarding it — Barrisdale in Loch Hourn — 
Ghastly story told by our pilot about his escape from the death-pit 
during an outbreak of cholera at St. Petersburg --Upper Loch 
Hourn above Barrisdale ; its magnificent scenery — Abundance of sea- 


fish in Upper Loch Hourn — Strength of the tide in the Narrows 
of Upper Loch Hourn — Sound of Sleat and Blaven — Castle Moil, 
Kyleakin, and Portree — Dead-beat of fifty miles against a strong 
wind and heavy sea from Portree to Stornoway — Stornoway town, 
castle, and grounds — Splendid view from the highest point of the 
castle grounds ..... pages 112-133 


A Yacht Cruise from Lerwick to Bergen 

Run from Lerwick to the Bommel Fiord — Norwegian pilots — Waterfall 
at iEnaes — Bondhus Glacier, Moranger Fiord— Hardanger Fiord and 
branches — Yacht nearly run ashore owing to the pilot's ignorance 
of the proper anchorage in the Moranger Fiord — Fine waterfalls a 
special feature in the landscape of the Hardanger Fiord— Sor Fiord 
and Eide Fiord, two branches of the great Hardanger — Village of Vik 
at the head of the Hardanger Fiord — Description of village of Vik 
— Excursion from Vik to the Vbring Foss, the grandest waterfall in 
Norway — Saeters or shepherds' huts near the Fall — Description of 
the Fall — Surefootedness and endurance of Norwegian ponies — Yacht 
nearly driven ashore by sudden and violent storm at Vik — From 
Vik to Bergen — Bergen — Fish-market — Athenpeum, Museum, and Art 
Union— Cathedral — Leper Hospital — Run from Bergen to Lerwick 
in fifty-one hours .... pages 134-173 


A Yacht Cruise among the Shetland Islands 

Peculiarities and attractions of the Shetland Islands — Their early history 
— Harold the fair-haired and the Princess Gida — Traces of the lone 1 


dominion of Norway among the modern Shetlanders — Sumburgh 
Roost and Fitful Head — Links of Sumburgh, scene of a desperate 
battle between the Shetlanders and the men of the Lewis — Burgh of 
Mousa — Similarity of the Burgh of Mousa and theNuraghe of Sardinia 
— Bard of Bressay, Ord of Bressay, and Noss Head — Sound of Bressay, 
one of the finest harbours in Scotland — Lerwick town and harbour — 
The Unicorn Rock a dangerous obstacle in the northern entrance to 


Bressay Sound — So named from the vessel belonging to Kirkaldy of 
Grange which was wrecked on it while pursuing the ship belonging 
to the profligate Earl of Bothwell — Cleikum Loch and Island Fort 
near Lerwick — Lochs of Tingwall — Good trout-fishing in Lochs of 
Tingwall — Legend regarding tall upright monumental stone near the 
lochs — Scalloway Castle, a noble ruin — Nearly a third of the adult 
male population of the Shetland Islands occupied in seafaring 
pursuits— Influence of masonic fraternities in Shetland — Excursion 
to Noss Head — Ruined Burgh of Brindister, picturesquely placed on 
the very verge of a precipice rising 100 feet above the sea — Visit to 
the interior of a Shetland cottage — Whalsey Island and Mr. Bruce 
of Simbister House — Fetlar Island and Burgh Hall belonging to Sir 
Arthur Nicholson — Harbour of Uya Sound between the Island of 
Unst and the little Island of Uya — Unst the most northern and one 
of the largest of the Shetland Islands — Walk across Unst from Uya 
Sound to Balta Sound — Remains of Mouness Castle — Lochs on the 
road across abounding in trout — Abundance of golden plover and 
snipe — Balta Sound, a spacious and perfectly land-locked harbour — 
Heilaburn, or Burn of Health, in Unst — Chromate of iron largely 
wrought in Unst — Buness House in Unst from which the French 
philosopher Biot, in 1817, carried on a series of experiments for 
determining the length of the seconds pendulum— Loch of Cliff in 
Unst, the largest sheet of fresh -water in the Shetland Islands ; 
excellent fishing in — Burra Fiord, Saxa Fiord, and Scaw Roost — 
Flugga Stack and Lighthouse in Unst, the northernmost lighthouse 
in the British Isles .... pages 174-212 

Appendix A. — Fisheries of Orkney . . . ,, 213-219 

,, B. — Oysters and Mussels in the Shetland Islands ,, 220-222 

Index . . . . . ,, 223-225 



The Pass of Brander ...... Frontispiece 

Ben More Coigach and Stack Polly . . . Title-page 

The Great Circle of Stenness and Loch Sten- 

ness ....... Facing page 6 

Islands of Graemsay and Hoy from Stromness 

Harbour „ 10 

Ward Hill of Hoy from Stromness Bay . . „ 12 

The Cliffs and Old Man of Hoy . . . „ 14 

suilven from the sea „ 26 

Glamaig from Sligachan . . . . . „ 30 

Looking up Loch Shiel from the skirts of Ben 

Eesipol . . . . . . . „ 44 

A Highland Cottage „ 64 

Ben Sgroil and Entrance to Loch Hourn . . „ 114 

Rocks near Stonehaven ,,136 

Vik, Hard anger Fiord „ 146 

The Saeters near Voring Foss . . . . ,,152 

Bergen . . . . . . . ,, 164 

Scalloway Castle ,194 



Castle Varrich and Ben Laoghal 
Rock Scenery off the Caithness Coast 
The Three Great Stones of Stenness 
Ben Laoghal from the Sea . 
The Storr from the Sea 
Loch Shiel, above Polloch . 
Rocks and Caves on the Coast near Elie 
Spynie Castle . . 
The Entrance to Glencoe . 
Castle Urquhart .... 
Head of Loch Etive 
Ben Cruachan from Loch Etive . 
Blaven from the Sound of Sleat 
Sgurr nan Gillean from Portree 
Egilsey Church, Orkney 
Witch Mountain, Bommel Fiord . 
Bondhus Glacier .... 
Bogholm Sound .... 
a loffoden fishing boat 
Shetland Mill .... 
Flugga Stack, northmost Lighthouse in British 

Noss Head 

Standing Stone of Unst 
A Pictish Lake Fort 
Bressay and Noss Head 




Not a season passes by without seeing numbers 
of yachts leaving our shores to explore the fiords 
of Norway, the blue and tideless Mediterranean, 
or the sunny isles of the Grecian Archipelago. 
The flag of an English yacht has waved in the 
noble bay of San Francisco, in the harbours of 
Sydney and Hobart Town, on the waters of the 
Hudson, and even on the muddy Mississippi, where 
it sweeps past the crescent city of New Orleans. 
A fondness for novelty and adventure, a craving 


for excitement, a love of the beautiful, or all 
these combined, have led our yachtsmen to despise 
distance and danger, and to roam far and wide 
over the pathless ocean, in order to gratify their 
favourite tastes, or to vary the monotony of home 
life. It is, however, somewhat strange, that whilst 
long voyages are undertaken to distant lands, some 
of the most picturesque scenery on our own shores 
should be comparatively neglected. It is true, 
indeed, that the seas are stormy, the currents 
rapid, and the navigation intricate ; that in some 
places supplies are difficult to be found, and that 
the chance of being storm-staid in a Highland loch 
for a week or a fortnight, surrounded by sterile 
mountains half veiled in gray mist, and out of 
sight of human habitation, affords rather a dreary 
prospect ; but, with a stout vessel, a good sailing- 
master, and a provident steward, the former class 
of dangers may be easily avoided ; and, by making 
the cruise during the proper season of the year 
(the months of June, July, and August), there is 
not much chance of suffering from the latter con- 
tingency. Upon the other hand, how rich are the 
stores of grandeur and beauty, how great the 
variety of pleasure which such a cruise discloses ! 
The Orkney Islands, some barren and rocky, others 


green and smiling, divided by long reaches of sea, 
and full of excellent harbours, such as that of 
Stromness, with its quaint old town, in full view 
of the Ward Hill of Hoy, on whose summit, accord- 
ing to tradition, an enchanted carbuncle is some- 
times seen shining at midnight — the adjacent coast 
of Scotland, fissured by caves and indented by 
arms of the sea, above which rise the towering 
peaks of Ben Hope and Ben Laoghal — the bold 
headland of Cape Wrath, with its lofty light gleam- 
ing over the wild Atlantic. Then, turning south- 
ward, the beautiful Loch Laxford, and the coast 
range of mountains, unrivalled in varied and 
fantastic outline, stretching for fifty miles from 
Loch Laxford to Loch Ewe. Of wood there is 
but little, and that almost all natural ; but then, in 
autumn, how exquisite is the colouring, and how 
the mountain slopes glow with the mingled hues of 
the purple heather, the gray rock, and the rich 
golden brown of the deer grass and the bracken ! 

South of Loch Ewe the scenery of the Scottish 
coast and of the western islands is better known, 
and more in the beaten track of tourists and 
yachtsmen ; but, during a month's cruise in the 
finest season of the year, we met very few yachts 
between the Moray Firth and Loch Ewe. 


Some years ago we set sail from Granton 
Harbour in the month of June in a cutter yacht of 
thirty-five tons, manned by a sailing-master and 
three stout hands, having been occupied for some 
hours previously in getting below and stowing 
away an amount of stores which seemed, when 
piled up upon the deck, as if they would have 
served for a voyage to Australia. The yacht was 
constructed by those well-known builders, the 
Messrs. Inman, who left not a hole or corner that 
was not turned to some use or other as a press 
or locker. We may as well give a brief descrip- 
tion of her accommodation : a good roomy fore- 
castle, where the men had air, light, and comfort; 
commodious steward's pantry ; ample stowage for 
spare anchor, baskets, lanterns, etc. Good state- 
room on the starboard side ; main-cabin, fit to dine 
a dozen people, and more than five feet nine inches 
under the beams ; the companion entering side- 
ways, a plan all moderate-sized yachts should adopt. 
One closet behind cabin stair and another in after- 
cabin. This cabin, being under a booby hatch, 
is some six and a half or seven feet high, and 
as airy as a drawing - room in Belgrave Square. 
Some folks object to booby hatches over the 
main -cabin; I admit they are an abomination; 


but aft and of moderate size they are no de- 
formity, and it has always been a question with 
me whether their utility is more felt on deck or 
below — they form so eligible a seat, and with a 
small rail enclosing the centre such a desirable 
place for charts, telescopes, pipes, etc., that I 
cannot understand how they can be dispensed 
with. Be sure that you have them always decked 
and caulked whatever part of the ship they are in, 
it is the only way to insure their being tight. 

When I say that beyond the after-cabin was a 
spacious sail - room with berths for two men if 
required, you have the yacht's accommodation 
described. She was a fairly fast vessel and an 
excellent sea-boat. On one occasion we ran from 
Leith to the Thames in fifty-two hours, having a 
steady, strong westerly breeze the whole way. On 
another occasion we were hove to for forty-eight 
hours, in one of the worst gales of the autumn, in the 
North Sea, half-way between Lerwick and Bergen, 
and, under the trysail and storm-jib, she behaved 
nobly, shipping no heavy water. She was ulti- 
mately sold to an Australian yachtsman, and made 
the passage from the Clyde to Australia in 110 
days. We have no intention of inflicting upon 
our readers any unbroken narrative, continued from 


day to clay, during the six weeks that our cruise 
lasted ; still less do we deem it necessary to garnish 
our story with nautical details as to what amount 
of sail we carried, how often we hove the lead or 
the loor the exact direction of the wind, or the 
precise number of fathoms in which we anchored. 
Our object is simply to give some account of the 
most interesting places we visited, and the most 
picturesque scenery we saw, especially in those 
unfrequented and remote localities which it was 
our fortune to explore. 

Our northern voyage was stormy, but we passed 
some fine rock scenery on the sea-coast. At last we 
got into the boiling tide of the Pentland Firth, and 
afterwards into those smooth and sheltered arms of 
the sea that wind among the Orcadian Archi- 
pelago. Behold us at length anchored in the 
tranquil waters of the Bay of Stromness, guarded 
by the green island of Graemsay, with its white 
strand and twin lighthouses, beyond which towers 
the lofty Hill of Hoy. A few hundred yards from 
our anchorage lies the town of Stromness, built at 
the foot of a sloping hill, and presenting a confused 
assemblage of narrow streets and tall old houses, 
whose peaked gables face the bay, into which juts 
out a perfect medley of quays and landing-places, 


affording every facility for the encouragement of 
the nautical tastes of the inhabitants. 

About four miles from Stromness is an extensive 
sheet of water, called the Loch of Stenness, and, 
close to it, separated only by a narrow neck of 
land, through which flows a stream connecting 
the two lakes, lies the Loch of Harray. Not far 
from the high road, and at one extremity of this 
tongue of land, to the northward of the Bridge of 
Brogar, stands the magnificent Druidical circle of 
the Stones of Stenness. Close to these stones 
are several circular grass-grown tumuli, probably 
the last resting-places of distinguished Orcadian 
and Norwegian chiefs or princes, not likely to 
be disturbed, unless curiosity shall induce some 
prying antiquarian to invade even this remote 
spot. The Stones of Stenness are of various sizes, 
and form a circle of about 400 feet in circumfer- 
ence ; some of them do not rise above four or 
five feet from the ground, whilst the largest 
standing is about ten feet in height. Their aspect, 
rude, gray, time-worn, but strong and massive, 
harmonises admirably with the character of the 
scenery in midst of which they stand. Those 
leaden lakes, their surface unbroken by islands, 
their shores unfrinoed by trees; that wide extent 


of level and dreary moor sloping up in the 
distance into low, shapeless hills ; and in the 


centre of all, the giant forms of the Stones of 
Stenness, the presiding deities of the place, 
are as impressive, perhajDS, in this bleak and 
barren waste, as the lofty columns whose 


graceful shafts and sculptured capitals still 
tower over the ruins of Baalbec, in the brighter 
landscape of a warmer clime, and under the 
golden glow of a southern sky. 1 

To the south of the Bridge of Brogar stand 
three gigantic stones, the tallest of which is 
seventeen feet six inches in height, and near it 
lies prostrate a still more gigantic monolith of 
nineteen feet. These are depicted in the 

Those who have a passion for climbing, or a 
fondness for extensive prospects of sea and island, 
may, in the long days of summer, take boat from 
Stromness, early in the morning, land on the 
island of Hoy, ascend the Ward Hill, the highest 
summit in the Orkneys, and return to Stromness 
the same evening. Far in the recesses of the 
mountain, in a gloomy and rock-strewn valley, 
lies the Dwarfie Stone — a huge mass of rock 
hollowed out into a rude dwelling, which Trolld, a 
dwarf celebrated in the northern sagas, is said 
to have formed for himself, and selected as his 
favourite residence. 

1 For a full description of the scenery and fishings of the Loch of 
Stenness and Harray, taken from my Blue-book of 1887 on Orkney and 
Shetland Islands, see Appendix A. 


Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkneys, is about 
fourteen miles distant from Stromness. The road 
between the two places is excellent, but the scenery 
most dreary, with the exception of the pretty 
Bay of Firth, and a sheltered valley near it, in 
which are a handsome modern house and some 
well-cultivated fields. Between the promontories 
of Inganess and Quanterness, protected by the 
opposite island of Shapinshay, lies a deep and 
beautiful bay, at the bottom of which stands the 
town of Kirkwall. The Cathedral of St. Magnus, 
built in the twelfth century, and still in perfect 
preservation, is alone well worthy of a voyage to 
the Orkneys. Its tall, massive form dominates 
over the other buildings — fit type of the relative 
positions of the Church and the laity at the time 
when it was reared. It is built of a reddish sand- 
stone, and in the heaviest and earliest style of 
Gothic architecture. The first view of the interior 
is very striking. All around the Cathedral there 
are passages in the thickness of the walls, whence 
the priests (themselves unseen) could look down on 
the worshippers below, and in one place there is a 
secret chamber in which a chained skeleton was 

Kirkwall possesses another interesting relic of 


the past, in Earl Patrick's Palace. When we saw it, 
it was in a filthy state, being used as a place for 
keeping geese and poultry of all kinds. We heard, 
however, that there was an intention of repairing 
or rebuilding it for a Town House. Sir Walter 
Scott observes, whilst describing the earl's and 
bishop's palaces at Kirkwall : — " Several of 
these ruinous buildings might be selected (under 
suitable modifications) as the model of a 
Gothic mansion, provided architects would be 
contented rather to imitate what is really beauti- 
ful in that species of building, than to make a 
medley of the caprices of the order, confounding 
the military, ecclesiastical, and domestic styles of 
all ages at random, with additional fantasies and 
combinations of their own device, all formed out of 
the builder's brain." 1 

A most important benefit for the Orkney Islands 
would be the restoration of the oyster beds which 
formerly yielded a regular supply of excellent 
oysters. There is no doubt that these beds, 
though now for the most part either wholly or 
partially dredged out, might once again be made 
productive if they were scientifically cultivated 
and properly protected. This is a matter of great 

1 See The Pirate. 


importance to the islands, especially when we 
remember that the oyster industry of Scotland is 
steadily falling off, and, indeed, may be said to be 
almost extinct ; the total value of Scottish oysters 
in 1885 being only £809, as against £2174 in 
1884. In 1885, the once famous and productive 
oyster beds of the Firth of Forth yielded only 
£273, and in 1884 £500. In 1885 only three 
of the Fishery Districts yielded oysters, namely, 
Leith, Stornoway, and Ballantrae. 

Yet in Orkney, more than 300 years ago, 
oysters were both good and plentiful, and in 
certain places formed part of the rent paid by the 
tenant to the lord of the soil. Low tells us, in his 
Tour, that in the inner basin of the Long Hope 
there were formerly oyster scalps which produced 
oysters so large that they had to be cut into four 
pieces before being eaten ; and in Earl Patrick's 
rental of 1595, Aith inter alia paid "40 oistris for 
ilk Id. terrae " ; Manclett, 80 ; and Binns, 40. 
The Bays of Firth and Deersound used to be the 
principal localities for oysters in Orkney, and so 
late as 1845 the former was fairly productive. 
The Old Statistical Account of Scotland, published 
about 100 years ago, tells us that "In this Bay 
(the Bay of Firth) excellent oysters, and of a large 


size, are found in tolerable plenty. They are sold 
at a shilling the hundred." As much as £2000 
worth of oysters have been sold out of the Bay of 
Firth in a single season. But a fleet of boats came 
and dredged them all out ; since which time 
the oyster scalps have remained almost entirely 
unproductive. Yet in the vicinity of the islands 
of Damsay and the Holm of Grimbister, and in 
other parts of the Bay of Firth, and also in certain 
localities in the Bay of Isbister, which is close to 
the Bay of Firth, there are places admirably 
suited for oyster culture, and likewise in Deer- 
sound, especially on the west side of the bay 
between Lakequoy and Suckquoy, if only the 
oyster culturist could be secured in the enjoyment 
of the results arising from the money expended in 
restoring these dredged-out bays to their former 
condition of productiveness. Other countries re- 
cognise the necessity of protecting the oyster 
culturist, and adopt stringent means to do so. In 
the United States of America, for example — 
where the annual production of oysters is between 
5000 and 6000 millions — they have aj3pointed 
a salaried Oyster Protector for the State of New 
York, whose duty it is to supervise the oyster 


Perhaps there is no place in Orkney that would 
be more suitable for oyster culture than the Peerie 
Sea, which runs into the Bay of Kirkwall under 
the high road to Finstown. The tide flows into 
and ebbs from this shallow salt-water lake, which 
is about a mile and a half in circumference, and 
which, from its position, could be easily and 
cheaply overlooked and protected. I noticed 
various parts of the Peerie Sea where the bottom 
is suitable for oysters. But in other parts it 
might require to be cultched, and star-fish, dog- 
whelks, and other enemies of the oyster destroyed. 
Of course it would be necessary to prevent the 
discharge into it of town sewage, gas refuse, and 
other deleterious matters. The Peerie Sea belongs, 
I understand, to the town of Kirkwall. 

The lower reaches of the Loch of Stenness 
would probably be found excellent for the laying 
down and fattening of oysters, as the presence of a 
certain amount of fresh water and a current — such 
as exist for some distance above the Bridge of 
Waithe — are favourable for the fattening of 
oysters, though they would be unfavourable for 
breeding and spatting purposes; pure sea- water 
and a clean bottom being most suitable in such 




Early on a fine July morning we got under 
way, and left the Bay of Stromness, bound for 
Loch Emboli, on the north coast of Scotland. The 
wind was light ; but on o-ettin^ into the Eoost 
of Brackness, as the narrow channel between the 
Island of Hoy and the Mainland of Orkney is 
termed, we found ourselves all at once in the 
midst of a tremendous sea, pitching bowsprit 
under, and the spray flying over our deck. We 
had started with the ebb tide, and there had been 
a westerly breeze for some days, and it was the 
meeting of the westerly swell with the tide, which 
runs nine miles an hour in the narrow channel of 
the Eoost, that caused the commotion which so 
much astonished us. However, as soon as we had 
rounded Hoy Head, and got fairly out into the 
Atlantic, the sea became much calmer. Hoy 
Head is a magnificent promontory, formed by a 
spur of the lofty Ward Hill, which here dips down 
into the ocean a sheer precipice, 1000 feet in 
height, protracted to the southward for miles, an 
iron wall of rock-bound coast, gradually diminish- 
ing in height. At a short distance from Hoy Head, 
and a little in front of the cliffs, an isolated 
rock, called the " Old Man of Hoy," rises abruptly 
from the sea, sometimes seeming to blend with the 



precipices behind, at other times standing out in 
strong relief. 

During the whole day we had light and variable 
winds, with occasional calms, though there was a 
good deal of sea on, till we had quite closed in 
with the land ; in consequence of which we did 


not reach our anchorage, a sheltered bay in Loch 
Emboli, about sixty miles distant from Stromness, 
until late in the night. The view of the moun- 
tains on the coast, and in the interior, as we 
approached the land, was exceedingly striking. 
In Caithness we saw Morven, and in Sutherland- 
shire Ben Griam-Mhor, Klibreck, Ben Laoghal, Ben 


Hope, and many other lofty summits, whose 
names we did not know. The entrance to the 
Kyle of Tongue, to the eastward of Loch Emboli, 
is very picturesque. In the opening of this arm of 
the sea lie numerous small islands, behind which is 
a safe anchorage, and beyond tower the lofty and 
serrated peaks of Ben Laoghal, the most conspicuous 
object in the landscape. We were much impressed 
by the grandeur of the white cliffs on our left as 
we entered Loch Emboli ; lofty, pointed, and pre- 
cipitous, they form an admirable landmark for the 
storm-tossed mariner, and point out the entrance 
to a quiet haven. 

On emerging from our berths in the morning 
we were delighted with the beauty of the land- 
scape in the vicinity of our anchorage — a deep bay, 
at the foot of a steep range of hills, covered with 
the greenest pasture, broken up here and there by 
gray rocks. A narrow neck of land, terminating 
in a grassy promontory, lay between us and the 
sea ; on this stood a solitary house, called Heilim 
Inn, then occupied by a canny Celt named Hector 
M'Lean, exercising the joint trades of ferryman 
and innkeeper, whose hereditary caution and 
shrewdness in driving a bargain had been wonder- 
fully sharpened by many years of traffic with the 


crews of the numerous storm-bound vessels that 
find refuge in Loch Emboli. Towards the head of 
the loch, an island, green as an emerald, with a 
narrow strip of the whitest sand marking the 
boundary between the verdure and the water, 
seemed to stretch almost across the lake ; a little 
beyond, on the eastern shore, a bold headland, half 
green and half rocky, rose abruptly from the 
strand ; behind it stretched a level tract of barren 
moorland, whilst the distance was closed in by a 
lofty chain of bleak and sterile mountains. The 
upper part of these mountains is literally "herb- 
less granite," strewed with detached masses of 
rock, which have been torn off by the winter 
storms. Of vegetation there is not a trace ; but 

All is lonely, silent, rude • 
A stern yet glorious solitude. 

About a mile distant from Loch Emboli across 
the hills, or a couple of miles by the road, lies 
Loch Hope ; between the two runs the river Hope, 
which has a broad, full current, but a course not 
much exceeding a mile in length. It is celebrated 
as a first-rate salmon river. On inquiring, we 
found that the fishings were let ; however, as there 
was no means of procuring permission without 


sending a long distance for it, I determined to 
walk across and fish until I was stopped by the 
keeper, taking only a small trouting-rod and light 
tackle. The day was a most unfavourable one for 
my purpose — bright and warm, with scarcely a 
breath of air. I soon, however, caught, in Loch 
Hope, a couple of fine sea-trout, and afterwards, in 
the river below, a grilse, four pounds weight, 
when my sport was for some time interrupted by 
a fine salmon, which rose to a trout-fly, and suc- 
ceeded, after a struggle of ten minutes, in breaking 
my flimsy tackle, and making off down stream. 
On refitting, I again set to work, and soon suc- 
ceeded in getting a weighty basketful of sea-trout, 
with which I trudged back to the yacht. From 
what I saw, I have no doubt that the Hope fully 
deserves its reputation, and can believe that 
10,000 lbs. of salmon have been taken out of it 
in a single season. 

On reaching the yacht I found that my friend, 
who had parted from me on the banks of the 
Hope, to find his way round by the shore of Loch 
Emboli, had not yet returned, nor did he make 
his appearance for some time. He had lost his 
way, got involved amongst bogs and precipices, and 
at length arrived thoroughly tired, and intensely 


disgusted with the state of the footpaths in this 
part of Sutherlandshire. 

Next day the weather still continued bright and 
fair, but a perfect hurricane of wind was blowing 
from the south-west. I walked across the hills to 
Loch Hope, not without considerable difficulty 
from the violence of the storm. Loch Hope fills 
up a narrow ravine, about six miles in length, and 
at its southern extremity is a deep gorge hemmed 
in by mountains of picturesque and varied forms. 
Down this gorge, and along the narrow channel of 
the loch, the wind was rushing in heavy gusts, 
with a noise like thunder, raising the water in 
columns of spray fifteen or twenty feet high, and 
whirling them with immense velocity from end to 
end of the lake, so that when the sun occasionally 
shone out on them, it seemed as if fragments of a 
rainbow were drifting along the waters. 

By far the grandest feature in the landscape is 
the magnificent solitary mountain of Ben Hope, 
which rears its lofty form, scarred and furrowed by 
storms and torrents, 3040 feet above the lake. 
Its shape and general appearance reminded me 
forcibly of that most beautiful of isolated moun- 
tains, Arrigal, in the north-west of Ireland. But 
the quiet lakes which lie sleeping at its base, and 


the wooded and fertile domain of Dunlui, are, 
perhaps, more attractive than the wild shores of 
Loch Hope. 

Close to our anchorage, and almost on the edge 
of the water, stand the ruins of a small church ; 
the gables only remain entire, and the interior is 
choked up with a thick growth of fern. All over 
Sutherlandshire the ruins of small hamlets and 
scattered cottages are to be found ; and a melan- 
choly sight it is, to meet in the recesses of the 
mountain valleys with shattered walls and green 
patches here and there appearing amongst the 
heather, showing that cultivation and life had once 
existed where now are only the grouse and the red- 
deer. The cause of all this was the introduction 
of the sheep-farming system into the county, to 
make room for which the small farmers and cotters 
who occupied the straths and valleys were ejected 
from their holdings and compelled to emigrate, so 
that the population is at present much smaller 
than formerly. 

We were detained for five days in Loch Emboli, 
and were twice driven back in attempting to beat 
round Cape Wrath. Our supplies of bread ran 
short, and we found, to our dismay, that the nearest 
baker lived thirty miles off — rather a long distance 


to send for hot rolls. In other respects we had 
nothing to complain of. AVe bought half a sheep 
from Mr. Clarke of Emboli, who j)ossesses an exten- 
sive sheep farm, and is deservedly famed for his 
hospitality to strangers — a virtue almost universal 
in Sutherlandshire. For eggs we paid fourpence 
a dozen, and for cream fourpence a pint — prices 
that would rather astonish a Londoner. A week 
might be passed here most pleasantly ; devoting 
one day to Loch Hope and the ascent of Ben Hope, 
from which, in clear weather, may be seen the 
island of Lewis to the west, the Orkneys to the 
north-east, and the principal mountains of Caithness 
and Sutherland. Another day might be spent in 
a visit to the Kyle of Tongue and to Tongue 
House, a seat of the Duke of Sutherland's ; a third 
in exploring the w T ild mountains at the head of 
Loch Emboli ; and a fourth in a fishing excursion 
to Loch Maddy, famed for the number and excel- 
lence of its trout. Whitten Head, with the fine 
caves close to it, would occupy a fifth ; and a visit 
to the Smowe Cave, a short distance to the west- 
ward of Loch Emboli, would fill up the sixth. Our 
last day was spent in an examination of this singular 
natural curiosity. The cave may be reached either 
by a pathway leading from the high-road or by 


the sea, from which the approach is by a narrow 
creek between precipitous walls of rock. The 
entrance is under a lofty arch, like the portal of 
some immense Gothic cathedral, and within the 
cave expands to a height and breadth of nearly 
one hundred feet. At some distance inwards from 
the entrance, a small stream falls through a rift in 
the rocky roof of the cavern, and forms a deep, 
still pool in its bosom more than seventy feet below. 
This basin is thirty yards across, very deep, and is 
separated from a smaller and outer pool by a low, 
narrow ledge of rock over which those who desire 
to penetrate into the recesses of the cave must get 
a boat lifted and placed in the inner pool. On 
crossing this, they will find themselves at the 
entrance of a low-browed narrow archway, not 
above three feet in height, through which they 
must pass lying flat in the boat. From this they 
emerge under a lofty vault covered with stalactites, 
overhanging a second dark, still pool, nearly as 
extensive as that which they have just left; and, 
if inclined to penetrate still farther, they may then 
walk on to the termination of the cave, about a 
hundred feet beyond the farther extremity of this 
innermost lake. There is a spot a few yards distant 
from the high-road, where you may stand upon the 


roof of the cavern, a deep chasm on either side, 
through one of which the stream that supplies the 
silent, sunless pools below, leaps into the cave. 

At last the weather permitted us to leave our 
snug* anchorage in Loch Emboli. For some time 
after starting the wind was favourable, but when 
we had rounded the noble promontory of Far-out 
Head, it became light and baffling, and for several 
hours we lay tossing on the long swell, and making 
little or no way. We had taken the precaution 
of getting a good offing, and were consequently 
pretty much out of the influence of the strong tides 
that prevail near Cape Wrath ; but we saw a large 
brig in-shore of us swept helplessly back by the 
current for miles to the eastward. The coast-line 
of cliffs near Whitten Head, Far-out Head, and Cape 
Wrath is magnificent. Many of the precipices are 
two hundred feet perpendicular, and some of them 
as much as seven hundred. From the Kyle of 
Durness an iron face of rugged rock overhangs the 
sea, gradually increasing in height and grandeur 
until it attains its culminating point in the bold 
headland of Cape Wrath, whose stern aspect we 
had ample opportunities for admiring ; as, however, 
we lay within sight of it for nearly a whole day, 
our admiration was merged in disgust, and we 


heartily wished ourselves out of sight of this cape 
of storms. 

Early on the morning of a bright July day we 
were off the Point of Stoer, some thirty miles south 
of Cape Wrath, with the wind still light ; but about 
ten o'clock a fine breeze from the north-west sprang 
up, and carried us along at a great rate, all sails 
set, and everything drawing. About four o'clock, 
after a fine run, we entered Loch Ewe, and came 
to anchor near the beautiful village of Poolewe, at 
the head of the loch. 

If the reader will take the trouble to look at the 
map of Scotland, he will see that an almost uninter- 
rupted range of mountains extends along the coast 
from Ben Dearg, south of Cape Wrath, to Loch 
Ewe. That mountain chain is more varied in 
outline, and more striking and picturesque in 
appearance, than any other in Great Britain. The 
summits vary in height from two thousand to 
three thousand three hundred feet — the highest is 
Ben More in Assynt ; the most singular, Suilven, 
or the Sugar -Loaf. Winding amongst these 
mountains, and extending up to the openings of 
the narrow valleys that divide them, and afford 
a channel for their waters, are a multitude of 
arms of the sea, many of them of great beauty, 


and affording to the yachtsman a choice of safe 
and convenient harbours. From one of these 
salt-water lochs, Loch Glen Dim, £30,000 worth 
of herrings were taken in a single year. 

Close to the shore, and a little way south of 
Loch Laxford, lies the singular island of Handa, 
in many respects more wonderful than Staffa. On 
the north-west side it presents stupendous cliffs 
four hundred feet perpendicular, the haunts of 
myriads of sea-fowl. Here, as at Staffa, may be 
seen basaltic columns, but those of Handa are 
peculiar to it, being arranged in horizontal layers, 
and presenting an appearance as if built by the 
hand of man. 

At Loch Ewe we were more within the beaten 
track of tourists than we had been since leaving 
the Moray Firth. Our first care was, of course, 
to make arrangements for a visit to the far-famed 
Loch Maree, by many deemed the queen of Scottish 
lakes. The short course of the river Ewe is too 
much broken by shallows and rapids to admit of 
boats being pulled up from the sea to Loch Maree. 
We were, therefore, obliged to hire a boat from a 
man of the name of M'Lean, and on repairing 
to his house on the banks of the river we found 
him waiting for us ; we accordingly followed his 


guidance, and embarked in the craft which belonged 
to him. Both man and boat were of the same 
build, the former broad in the beam as a Dutch- 
man, and the latter a heavy, clumsy affair, strong 
enough to navigate the Pentland Firth instead of 
the calm waters of an inland sea. We rowed up 
the Ewe for some distance before entering the 
lake, having on our right fine gray crags, thickly 
clothed with natural wood, and on our left, a 
comparatively tame shore. The entrance to Loch 
Alaree is very impressive : on one side is a steep 
and lofty mountain, on the other, precipitous rocks 
partially wooded — the lake between being narrow 
and deep. Farther on it expands into a spacious 
sheet of water, apparently closed in by a cluster 
of wooded islands separated by a number of narrow 
winding channels. The w T ood on one of these 
islets has nearly disappeared, owing to some ex- 
cisemen having set fire to it whilst engaged in 
destroying an illicit still. As we advanced, a 
magnificent valley, terminated by a noble range 
of serrated peaks, gradually opened up on the 
south-west shore of the loch, whilst, on the opposite 
bank, the gigantic form of Slioch towered above 
the neighbouring mountains. 

We landed on the island of St. Maree, which 


is thickly clothed with birch and the common and 
smooth-leaved holly. In the centre of a thicket 
are a few mossed and mouldering tombstones, 
bearing the symbol of the cross ; under one of 
these slumber the ashes of a Duke of Norway. 

Loch Maree is about twenty miles in length, 
but we did not proceed above half-way to Kinloch- 
ewe, where it terminates, and where its dark and 
narrow waters seem almost overhung by precipitous 
mountains. The weather was beautiful during the 
whole day, clear, bright, and warm, so that we 
saw Loch Maree to the best advantage ; but we 
both agreed, judging from what we had seen, that, 
though a noble sheet of water, studded with islands 
and surrounded by mountains, it is inferior in 
grandeur to the head of Loch Awe and Loch 
Shiel, and in picturesque beauty to Loch Lomond 
and Loch Katrine. 

On leaving Loch Ewe, we stood away southward 
for the Sound of Bona, but the weather was hazy 
and the wind adverse ; so that it took us twenty- 
four hours to reach Portree, the capital of Skye. 
The scenery on both sides of the narrow strait that 
separates the islands of Rona and Raasay from 
Skye is wild and stern : rugged mountains and 
lofty cliffs, a streak of foam here and there marking 


where a waterfall pours into the sea, and extensive 
moorlands of dark brown heath sloping away into 
the interior. In a few spots there is an appear- 
ance of verdure, but, with the exception of some 
stunted and scraggy bushes, no trace of foliage. 

The Bay of Portree forms a spacious land-locked 
harbour, on the north side of which stands the 
village, built along a steep slope. The entrance is 
narrow, between two lofty headlands, which form 
the commencement of a splendid range of coast 
scenery, extending northward to the Point of Aird. 
We found ourselves surrounded by a perfect fleet 
of fishing-boats and herring-coupers, as they are 
here termed. These are, for the most part, powerful 
sloop-rigged vessels, whose crews do not fish them- 
selves, but buy from the fishermen. They are often 
very fast sailers. The scene around was busy and 
picturesque : the quay, where an active traffic 
was being carried on, piled up and cumbered with 
herring-boxes, nets hanging from posts on shore, 
or depending from the rigging of vessels in the 
bay ; boats constantly arriving and setting sail ; 
and, above all, a perfect babel of tongues, bargain- 
ing, abusing, and cajoling, in Gaelic and English. 

It was Sunday morning when we arrived, and 
on landing we found that the service was in Gaelic ; 


so, as the day was a remarkably fine one for Skye, 
whose weeping climate is proverbial, I left my 
companion to wait for the afternoon service, which 
was in English, and set out to walk to the Storr 
Hill, about seven miles to the north of Portree. 
The path leads at first along the bottom of a wide 
valley bounded by a gentle acclivity, on surmount- 
ing which two lakes are seen filling up a similar 
hollow beyond. Keeping these lakes on his right, 
the traveller proceeds until he arrives at their 
extremity, when he will reach the foot of the Storr, 
with a steep ascent of about a thousand feet before 
him. This surmounted, he will find himself close 
to a huge precipice of black rock, on the seaward 
side of which a number of isolated pinnacles of the 
most varied and fantastic forms, and of enormous 
size, jut out from the side of the hill at every 
variety of inclination, whilst between these and 
the precipice above alluded to is a deep narrow 
valley or rather chasm, strewed with fractured 
masses of stone. It would be difficult to imagine 
a more stern and dismal spot than this, especially 
under the aspect in which I beheld it : upon one 
hand that wall of black rock ; on the other these 
rugged pinnacles, and the deep ravine between, 
half filled with drifting wreaths of mist, now r 


clearing off and disclosing frowning crags and 
yawning fissures ; then, again, settling down and 
involving everything in gloom and obscurity. I 
have never seen any place which more completely 
fulfilled, and indeed surpassed, my expectations, 


than this Storr Hill. Below the pinnacles, it 
slopes rapidly down into the valley, which then 
rises gently for more than a mile, when it terminates 
in steep cliffs, which dip abruptly into the waters 
of the sound. The most conspicuous and remark- 
able of the crags which project from the face of 
the Storr is that called the Needle — an enormous 


mass, nearly a hundred yards in circumference at 
the base, and about as high as the Scott monument 
in Edinburgh. It inclines so much that I should 
think a plumb-line dropped from the summit 
would fall thirty or forty feet beyond its base. 
Anglers should observe the lake nearest the Storr, 
where the fishing is open to all, and in which, as 
Mr. Skene of Portree informed me, it is no un- 
common day's fishing to kill from twenty to thirty 
pounds of trout. 

I got back to Portree about half-past five, but 
not without experiencing the provoking variable- 
ness of the weather, as the last three miles of my 
journey were performed under a perfect deluge 
of rain. 

Next day we drove to Sligachan Inn, at the 
entrance to the magnificent glen of the same name, 
and near the foot of Sgurr nan Gillean, one of 
the loftiest peaks of the Coolins. My companion 
hired a guide and a pony to proceed up the glen, 
cross the ridge, and descend upon the far-famed 
Loch Coruisk. This I had formerly seen, so I 
remained behind to sketch and fish. I caught 
some fine sea-trout in the Sligachan river, and 
afterwards tried, though not with much success, 
on account of the stillness of the day, a small 


moorland tarn, about a mile distant from the 
inn. The best fly for the Sligachan water is one 
dressed with a full roughish green body and brown 

We set sail from Portree in the forenoon of a 
fine day, with a steady easterly breeze, hoping 
easily to reach Loch Alsh by the evening ; but we 
were again doomed to suffer from the mutability 
of this most variable climate. It continued bright 
and warm until two o'clock, when we were between 
the islands of Scarpa and Eaasay, where we lay 
becalmed for some time, though at a little distance 
on either side there was a strong breeze. Presently 
it came on to blow so hard where we lay that we 
had to take in sail, and soon after a dense fog 
settled down all round us. The result was, that, 
instead of proceeding, we were glad to come-to 
for the night in Clachan Bay, close to the beautiful 
residence of Mr. Kainy of Eaasay, whose yacht, 
the Falcon, was anchored close to us. 

Next day we got sail on the cutter at six 
o'clock, and, with a fine leading wind from the 
north-west, which continued steady throughout 
the day, passed through the narrow channel 
which at Kyleakin separates Skye from the 
mainland. The position of this village is very 



romantic, and every one must admire the ruins 
of Castle Moyle, whose shattered and weather- 
stained walls look down upon the strait. At 
Balmacara, in the district of Loch Alsh, the 
scenery assumes a more gentle and sylvan aspect. 
Here we diverged from our course for the purpose 
of visiting Loch Duich, an arm of the sea whose 
beauty we had heard highly praised ; nor did 
we find this praise misplaced. We sailed some- 
what beyond the ruins of Eilean Donan Castle, 
the ancient stronghold of the Mackenzies of 
Kintail, built in the thirteenth century as a 
defence against the Norsemen, to whom most of 
the Western Isles belonged, and who often ravaged 
the coasts of Scotland. From this point we had 
a good view of the head of the loch, and the 
noble mountains which overshadow it. 

An arm of the sea called Loch Ling joins Loch 
Duich not far from the castle ; a small river flows 
into the head of it, and some miles up the 
southern branch of this stream is the finest 
waterfall in Scotland, the Grlomack, nearly twice 
the height of the better-known fall of Foyers in 
Inverness-shire. The scenery around it is wild 
and desolate ; and where the stream leaps into the 
deep chasm below there is no trace of foliage, 


not even a blade of grass, nothing but barren 

On leaving Loch Duich we entered the Sound 
of Sleat, which for more than twenty miles 
separates Skye from the mainland of Inverness- 
shire. Both sides of this strait are of wonderful 
and varied beauty. There are lofty and rugged 
mountains, wild tracts of heath, and sea lochs 
running far into the mainland ; but there are 
also sheltered pastoral valleys and quiet bays, 
with undulating wood-covered hills sloping up 
from the waters of the sound. 

One of the most beautiful scenes is Glenelg. 
There is a fine sweep of a bay, with several neat 
white houses peeping out of thick foliage, and 
the ruins of an extensive barrack built in the last 
century, to overawe the turbulent Highlanders. 
On the Skye side, Armadale, the residence of 
Lord Macdonald, with its verdant sward and 
well-kept policies, is a sweet spot. Nothing on 
the mainland more forcibly attracts and rivets 
the attention than the opening to Loch Hourn, 
guarded by the lofty Ben Screel. Its form is 
very noble, and from the sharp summit its out- 
lines sweep down in grand curves to the water. 
We regretted much that our time did not allow 


us to explore this loch, as all the adjacent 
mountains are highly picturesque, and it forms 
a splendid anchorage, within which the British 
navy might ride in safety. Southward, of Loch 
Hourn is Loch Nevis, also a fine sheet of water 
and a good harbour, but the scenery around it 
is of a quieter and tamer character. 

After passing the point of Sleat, the views of 
Ben Blaven and of the Coolin range were varied 
and magnificent in the extreme. Years before I 
had beheld them ; but then their sharp peaks 
were seen peeping through wreaths of drifting 
mist, or were entirely hid by heavy rain -clouds; 
now the scene was quite changed ; the sky was 
cloudless, and the dark serrated peaks of the 
Coolins and the less pointed summits of Ben 
Blaven stood out sharply defined against the 
clear blue. Our course brought us in full view 
of the island of Rum, a mass of mountains which, 
even in the neighbourhood of the Coolins, asserts 
its claim to admiration. Beyond Rum, we passed 
close to Eigg, distinguished by a strangely-shaped 
precipitous rock, called the Scuir of Eigg. In the 
distance were the islands of Canna, Coll, and 
Tiree. Towards the evening we rounded the 
rocky point of Ardnamurchan, which is exposed 


to the full swell of the Atlantic, and where a well- 
appointed lighthouse has recently been erected. 
We then entered the Sound of Mull, passed the 
gray old castle of Mingarry, and concluded the 
most successful day's run we had had by casting 
anchor in the landlocked Bay of Tobermory. 

The village of Tobermory is built along one 
side of a semicircular bay, the other side of 
which is covered by the woods of Aros. Near 
Aros House is a beautiful little lake, embosomed 
in trees ; and from it flows a stream which tumbles, 
in a pretty cascade, into the bay. Some of the 
houses in Tobermory are painted a bright yellow, 
and the natives have a strange way of constructing 
signboards ; above the shops part of the wall is 
painted red, and upon this are printed the name 
and trade of the owner. It is merely the Mull 
fashion of puffing. 

Early on the morning after our arrival we 
started to sail up Loch Sunart, a long arm of the 
sea, which, for twenty miles, indents the mainland 
opposite Mull. The entrance to Loch Sunart is 
beset with rocks, but, once within, the channel is 
clear and safe. We, however, effected the entrance 
in safety, although we had no pilot ; indeed during 
our whole cruise we never had a pilot on board. 


Our sailing-master was cautious and experienced, 
and we had excellent charts, and these we found 
amply sufficient. The shores and islands of Loch 
Sunart present pictures of varied and romantic 
beauty. Undulating hills, clothed with verdure, 
rise gently from the water ; the rocks and moun- 
tains are thickly fringed and covered with copse- 
wood ; and in many a green spot and sheltered 
nook along its shores are nestled little thatched 
hamlets, or sunny, whitewashed farmhouses. We 
penetrated some distance above Salen, a fishing 
village, beautifully situated, and almost buried 
amongst the woods that encircle a deep and quiet 

Leaving the yacht in Loch Sunart, we landed 
on the mainland with the intention of spending 
a day or two in visiting Loch Shiel, one of the 
most picturesque and beautiful of the inland lakes 
of Scotland, in which we have since, during many 
seasons, had several weeks' excellent yellow trout, 
sea-trout, and salmon fishing. 

Separating Argyleshire from Inverness-shire for 
more than twenty miles, Loch Shiel stretches its 
long, narrow, deep expanse of water, overshadowed 
by lofty mountains and diversified by islands. Of 
late years it has been a good deal frequented by 


anglers, who find comfortable accommodation and 
boats and boatmen at Ardshellach, about two miles 
from the lower end of the loch ; but it has not yet 
met with the attention it deserves from artists ; 
though, from Eilean Finnan at the foot of Ben 
Resipol, about four miles above Ardshellach, to the 
head of the loch at Glenfinnan, there is not a more 
beautiful sheet of water in Scotland. For all that 
distance — nearly fifteen miles — there is no road on 
either shore of the loch, but lofty and steep 
mountains rise abruptly from the water. Near 
Polloch, on both sides, the lower slopes of the 
hills are fringed with natural wood ; while on the 
north side, from Glenalladale to the head, the 
rocks are fractured into the most varied and 
fantastic shapes, and clothed, wherever there is 
soil enough, with birch trees, whose graceful forms 
and fresh green foliage modify the sternness of 
the scenery. At the head, where the hills of 
the Deer Forest of Guisachan rise boldly above 
the small river that runs into the loch, there are 
some splendid specimens of old Scotch firs in 
groups and single trees, most picturesquely placed 
on the hill -slopes or on rocky peninsulas jutting 
into the water. The loftiest mountain on Loch 
Shiel is Ben Resipol, whose base occupies the 


whole of the narrow neck of land that divides 
Loch Sliiel from Loch Sunart. From the sharp 
summit of this mountain there is a fine and 
extensive view of the Scuir of Eigg, the peaks 
of the island of Rum, and of a long stretch of 
the western sea, lochs, and islands. It is about 
seven miles from Ardshellach to the top of Ben 
Resipol, and the ascent is most easily made from 
Resipol Farm on the side of Loch Sunart. 

Loch Shiel contains salmon, grilse, sea-trout, 
and yellow trout. The heaviest salmon we ever 
caught in it with the rod was 16 lbs., but they 
have been taken with the net 33 lbs. weight. 
Our heaviest sea-trout was 7 lbs., and heaviest 
yellow trout 5 lbs. The average of the yellow trout, 
however, is not above half-a-pound. The phantom 
and protean minnows are the most deadly trolling 
baits. As to flies, we found large-sized loch flies 
the most killing — red bodies with teal wings ; 
yellow bodies with the brown feather of the 
mallard wing ; and green bodies with teal wings ; 
in each case with a well-marked twist of gold 
tinsel round the bodies, being the best patterns. 

During five visits, of from ten days to a fort- 
night each, in different years to Loch Shiel, every 
bay in it from Glenfmnan to Ardshellach w T as 


fished. An east wind — in general a bad wind for 
fishing — is particularly unfavourable on Loch 
Shiel, and we were never successful on any 
occasion when it was blowing. As a rule we 
found the narrow river-like portion of the loch 


which stretches for some distance above Ard- 
shellach, the rocky bays around Polloch, the south 
side of the loch from that up to the Black 
Islands, and the shores of these islands, the best 
spots for salmon and sea-trout ; while, for yellow 
trout, the places where we were most successful 
were the wide bay on the north side of the loch 
where the narrows above Ardshellach expand, 


some bays near Dalilee House and in the vicinity 
of Eilean Finnan, the long stretch of gravelly 
beach opposite Polloch, and the rocky shore on 
the north side from Glenalladale to the head of 
the loch. 

At Polloch, on the south side of Loch Shiel, 
a little river, about a mile and a half long, falls 
into the head of a deep bay. Near its mouth 
there is a small village or hamlet in a remote 
and secluded yet beautiful valley ; its only com- 
munication with Ardshellach or Grlenfinnan beinor 
by water, while on the south the only road is a 
steep bridle-path leading over the hills to the 
village of Strontian at the head of Loch Sunart. 
There are several nice pools and streams on the 
small river at Polloch, though the fish seldom seem 
to lie in them, but press up to Loch Doilate out 
of which it flows, and in which there is good 
fishing for salmon and sea-trout in autumn. This 
loch is preserved, but we tried it once by per- 
mission of the proprietor, when the best fish we 
got was a 4-lb. sea-trout. The hamlet of Polloch 
and Loch Doilate are well worth a visit, even 
though no fishing can be had. The scenery 
around the head of the loch is magnificent. A 
quiet, deep stream runs into it through Glen 


Hurich, or the Fairies' Glen, a level, green, 
smiling valley with clumps of fine trees. This 
gradually gets steeper and wilder and narrower 
as it rises towards the giant sides of Scur Donald, 
whose lofty summit rises nearly 3000 feet above 
the level of the sea. 

One of the most interesting spots in Loch 
Shiel is Eilean Finnan, or the Island of St. 
Finnan, which occupies the centre of a circular 
bay at the foot of the steepest side of Ben Eesipol. 
It is entirely clothed with the most verdant turf; 
and as you look down upon it from the summit 
of the mountain, which rises nearly 3000 feet 
above it, you see a narrow fringe of gravel around 
the shores of the bay, and beyond a belt of water, 
black from its great depth, encircling the island, 
which looks like a gigantic emerald set in jet. St. 
Finnan, or Finnian, was born in Ireland about the 
year 575. Desirous of martyrdom, he took upon 
himself the leprosy of a child who came to him 
to be cured, and was covered with worms which 
he called his fellow-citizens. This saint is said 
to have performed many miracles. His name is 
preserved not only in Eilean Finnan, but also in 
Glenfinnan at the head of Loch Shiel. On the 
island are still to be seen the walls of a small 


church dedicated to St. Finnan, its altar, and a 
fine-toned angular hand-bell, to which great 
sanctity is attached by the Roman Catholics in 
the neighbourhood. There are also several flat 
tombstones, some of them with interlaced ribbon 
borders, and having a claymore sculptured on them. 
Eilean Finnan was the burying-place of the Clan 
Ranald, whose picturesque ruined stronghold of 
Castle Turim — the only relic of the once great 
possessions of the family— is within an hour and 
a half's walk of Ardshellach. It is still a favourite 
burying-place for the Roman Catholics in the 
vicinity of Loch Shiel ; and on the occasion of 
an interment the mourners are rowed to the island, 
a grave is dug on the spot, and the body buried. 
We once witnessed the ceremony while fishing 
on the loch. Two large boats contained the coffin 
and the mourners. The men rowed to the island 
and dug a grave through the green turf, into 
which the dead was lowered to sleep beside priests 
and chiefs under the giant shadow of Ben Resipol. 

The trout-fishing — both for loch and sea trout 
— has greatly fallen off since we first fished Loch 
Shiel more than twenty years ago. The cause 
of this is difficult to explain, for the loch is a 
vast expanse of water, remote and comparatively 


little fished. The herons on the heronry in the 
island opposite Polloch have been assigned as a 
cause, but we think without sufficient reason ; for 
all the trout devoured by the herons could make 
but little difference in the numbers in a loch more 
than twenty miles long, nearly a mile wide in some 
places, and very deep. Neither has there been 
any appreciable change in the level of the loch, 
so that the feeding grounds of the trout remain 
unaltered. Indeed, although there is but little 
doubt of the fact of the falling off, there is great 
difficulty in assigning an adequate cause. We 
may here mention another curious circumstance 
connected with the fishings on Loch Shiel. The 
short, broad river that connects the loch with 
the sea issues from it at Shiel Bridge, and falls 
into a sea -loch called Loch Moidart. Another 
and smaller river — the Moidart — flowing from a 
little mountain lake, falls into the head of the 
same sea-loch. It is well known that salmon 
feed and grow almost entirely in the salt 
water, and, presumably, the salmon of these 
two rivers, and of the lochs from which 
they flow, must have much the same feeding- 
grounds. Yet, while the salmon of Loch Shiel 
and its river are among the most beautiful in 


Scotland — short, thick, and deep, with small heads 
— the salmon from the Moidart river and its 
parent loch are comparatively lanky, large-headed, 
and ugly. This difference was first pointed out 
by the late Mr. Hope Scott, then proprietor of 
Dorlin House and of the salmon-fishings on one 
side of the river Shiel, who was quite at a loss 
to account for the reason of so striking and marked 
a difference in these two breeds of salmon, ap- 
parently living under such similar conditions. 

Loch Shiel is a late loch, and in order to have 
it at its best the angler should not go before the 
beginning of June. Our first visit to it was paid 
in the second week of July. In the course of 
twelve days we had two days of calm, during 
which fishing was hopeless, and one of east wind. 
The result was, for three rods, 320 lbs. of loch- 
trout and sea-trout, and sixteen salmon and grilse. 
The salmon were all caught by trolling ; the trout 
chiefly with the fly. Our best day was 50 lbs. 
of trout, two salmon, and a grilse ; and the next 
best, 45 lbs. of trout, a salmon, and a grilse ; the 
worst — the day of east wind — only eighteen trout. 
The following year we paid a second visit to 
Ardshellach, also in July. On this occasion we 
drove from Fort -William by the side of Loch Eil 


to Glenflnnan at the head of Loch Shiel, where 
a monument marks the spot where the royal 
standard was unfurled by Prince Charles previous 
to the last struggle of the Stuarts for the throne 
of Great Britain. At this point we had our boats 
waiting us, and trolled down the whole way to 
Ardshellach — a distance of nearly twenty miles. 
During this visit we had very rainy and stormy 
weather. We got no salmon, and the average 
for two rods was only 20 lbs. of trout per day. 
On our third trip to Loch Shiel, we also met our 
boats at the head of the loch, and trolled down 
to Ardshellach, and when we reached it in the 
evening three rods had 35 lbs. of trout and a 
salmon. The result of twelve days' fishing during 
this visit was 270 lbs. of trout and three salmon. 
Our fourth visit was in August, when we found 
the sport, as regarded salmon, much better than 
the previous year. The result was, for three rods 
in eleven days, sixteen salmon, but only 150 lbs. of 
sea - trout and yellow trout. The last time we 
fished from Ardshellach was in the end of June. 
On this occasion the weather was boisterous and 
unfavourable, and on several days we did not go 
out. Ten days' fishing, however, yielded — for 
three rods — 250 lbs. of trout and fifteen salmon. 


( hie clay three loch-trout were captured, weighing 
9 lbs., or an average of 3 lbs. each. 

There can be little doubt that if the nets were 
taken off the river Shiel, which connects Loch 
Shiel with the sea, and the estuary of the Shiel 
and Moidart enlarged by drawing a line from Ku 
Smirsiri to Ku Driminish, instead of the present 
more restricted estuary line, Loch Shiel, as an 
angling loch, might become a rival to Loch Tay 
in the number, if not in the weight, of its salmon. 
Besides, being a late loch, the salmon-fishing on 
it would not commence until that on Loch Tay had 

Our homeward course lay by the west side of the 
island of Mull, passing the singular group known 
as the Treshnish Islands, one of which is called the 
Dutchman's Cap, and resembles a wide-awake with 
a particularly broad brim. Afterwards, favoured 
by the weather, we visited the caves of Staffa and 
the ruins at Iona ; but these are so well known, and 
have been so often and eloquently described, that 
any notice from me would be equally presumptuous 
and unnecessary. We then steered for the Sound 
of Isla, passing Colonsay, and made a fine passage 
through the sound, meeting, amongst other vessels, 
a handsome small cutter yacht, belonging to the 



St. George's Club of Ireland. On clearing the 
sound, we stood across for the Mull of Can tire, a 
promontory which bears an evil reputation for 
storms, and around which the tide runs very 
rapidly. We were, however, destined to experience 
none of the stormy influences of the Mull ; the 
wind was favourable, the sea smooth, and w T e 
entered the noble estuary of the Clyde just a 
month after we had left the Firth of Forth. 





Few things are more delightful than a yacht 
cruise during the long bright days of our short 
northern summer, but there are many qualifica- 
tions indispensable on the part of the yachtsmen 
to enable them fully to enjoy the pleasures of 
such a cruise. Among the most important of 
these are freedom, from sea-sickness, fondness for 
beautiful scenery, and, above all, a fund of good 
humour. No sea stock is so valuable as this last 
gift. On board a yacht there are no conveniences 


for being separate and sulky in the event of a 
quarrel, and gloomy faces and sour looks are 
intolerable, where all must constantly meet on 
the same deck and at the same table. But when 
the above requisites exist, such a cruise is a source 
of the greatest pleasure. If the members of the 
party have different tastes, all may be gratified 
during a voyage through the Caledonian Canal, 
or amongst the western islands and lochs of 
Scotland. The lover of sport will find wild-fowl 
shooting and a great variety of sea and fresh- 
water fishing ; the admirer of grand and beautiful 
scenery will find the widest scope for his admira- 
tion ; whilst the sketcher will revel amidst an 
endless choice of subjects. And then, too, how 
free and independent is such a life — how different 
from that of the traveller by steamboat, coach, 
or rail, constantly liable to be hurried away from 
the loveliest scene just as he is beginning to 
appreciate and enjoy it, and dependent ivpon the 
pleasure of innkeepers, drivers, and stokers ! That 
single gentleman, with the carpet-bag and sketch- 
book, seems, certainly, in an enviable position, 
free and unencumbered, but then he must abandon 
his unfinished sketch, or hurry over his dinner, 
at the sound of the steamboat bell, the railway- 


whistle, or the horn of the coach-guard. And 
what shall we say of that unfortunate, with 
a couple of ladies and a dozen packages, his 
temper constantly fretted and worried by the 
extent of his responsibility, and his feeling for 
the beautiful merged in his anxiety for the fate 
of a bandbox ? From these vexations and dis- 
appointments the yachtsman is exempt ; his time 
is regulated by his taste ; he stays where he will, 
and as long as he will; if becalmed, there are 
sketches to finish and journals to bring up ; and 
if assailed by a storm on any part of the west 
coast of Scotland, there is always a good harbour 
at hand. Much of the finest scenery, too, in 
that part of our island is accessible only in this 
way, for there are no steamboats to some of 
the finest of our Scottish sea lochs. Lochs Swin, 
Sunart, Hourn, Nevis, Laxford, Emboli, and many 
others whose shores and mountains are inferior 
in picturesque beauty and wild grandeur to no 
scenery in Great Britain, can thus only be visited 
and explored. 

In the month of June we set sail from Leith, 
bound on a cruise to the West Coast through the 
Caledonian Canal. Our northward voyage was 
devoid of interest, as the weather was misty, 


and concealed the coast from our view until we 
had fairly entered the Moray Firth. What wind 
there was came from the north-east, producing a 
swell which very much discomposed one of our 
party, who, however, bore the miseries of sea- 
sickness with most Christian patience, but did 
not entirely recover himself until we had reached 
the smooth waters of the Caledonian Canal. 

Our first anchorage was off Lossiemouth, a 
thriving seaport, situated upon the shores of the 
Moray Firth, about five miles distant from the 
town of Elgin, with which it is connected by a 
railway. Upon landing we lost no time in start- 
ing for Elgin, which was formerly the seat of a 
bishopric, possessing great wealth and most ex- 
tensive jurisdiction, one relic of which we soon 
beheld about a couple of miles beyond Lossie- 
mouth, in the magnificent remains of the episcopal 
palace and castle, rising above the reedy waters 
of the Loch of Spynie. These consist of a massive 
square keep, at least seventy feet in height, 
surrounded by strong outer walls strengthened by 
towers at the angles. Not far from Lossiemouth 
is also to be seen the gloomy old mansion of 
Gordonstown, buried among ancient trees, and 
once the residence of Sir Eobert Gordon, who 


was generally believed to be on the most intimate 
terms with the Prince of Darkness, and whose 
wizard fame in Scotland is second only to that 
of Michael Scot and True Thomas the Rhymer. 
His deeds have been thus commemorated by 
Willie Hay, a Morayshire poet : 

Oh, wha hasna heard o' that man of renown, 
The wizard, Sir Eobert o' Gordonstown ? — 
The wisest of warlocks, the Morayshire chiel, 
The despot o' Dufius, an' frien' o' the deil ; 
The man whom the folks of a' Morayshire feared, 
The man whom the friends o' anld Satan revered ; 
Oh, never to mortal was evil renown 
Like that of Sir Robert of Gordonstowu. 

The town of Elgin is beautifully situated in a 
fertile hollow, sheltered by gentle wooded undula- 
tions, and watered by the Lossie. Its climate is 
so mild and equable that it has been called the 
Montpellier of Scotland. Living is cheap, and 
its schools are numerous and excellent. These 
inducements have attracted many residents of 
wealth and respectability, and the town is sur- 
rounded by handsome villas, with trim gardens 
and neatly-dressed grounds. 

Elgin Cathedral, of which but the ruins now 
remain, was, perhaps, the finest specimen of florid 
Gothic ever erected in Scotland. It was founded 


by Bishop Murray in 1224, burnt by the Wolf of 
Badenoch in 1390, and soon after rebuilt with 
great splendour. It then remained entire for 
nearly two hundred years, when an Act of Council 
was passed, under the Regent Morton, for strip- 
ping the lead from its roof in order to pay the 
wages due to the troops. This barbarous order 
was too faithfully executed, but the ship freighted 
with the lead sank in St. Andrews Bay. From 
this time, however, the noble structure, exposed 
to the weather, and utterly neglected, hastened 
rapidly to decay, and in 1711 the great tower 
(190 feet in height) fell. The only part at present 
in good preservation is the beautiful octagonal 
chapter-house, whose lofty vaulted roof is supported 
by a single central pillar. 

Spynie Castle, about four miles distant from 
Elgin, was for centuries the residence of the 
Bishops of Moray, and is still, though much 
dilapidated, one of the grandest buildings in the 
north of Scotland. The great walled enclosure 
forms nearly a square fifty yards in length by 
forty-four in breadth, with towers at the angles. 
But the most prominent and striking feature of 
the castle is the great tower at the south-west 
corner, built by Bishop David Stewart between 


14()l and 1475. It measures fifty feet from north 
to south, and forty feet from east to west, and is 
seventy feet in height to the corbels which carried 
the battlements. The north, west, and south 
walls are ten feet thick, but the wall looking to 
the inner court, where defence was less required, is 
only four feet. In the lower part of the tower 
were the vaults and dungeons. A grand hall, 
forty-two feet by twenty-two, occupied the first 
story. At the time this tower was built the 
Bishops of Moray were not only powerful spiritual 
potentates, but likewise great temporal lords, and 
so Sjiynie came to be both a palace and a castle, 
and in the days of its glory it must have been the 
most magnificent episcopal residence in Scotland. 

The great tower is said to have owed its origin 
to a feud between the Earl of Huntly and the 
Bishop. The Earl, according to the story, is said 
to have threatened to pull the proud prelate out of 
his pigeon-hole, to which the Bishop retorted that he 
would build him a house out of which the Earl and 
his whole clan should not be able to drag him. The 
last Koman Catholic Bishop who inhabited the castle 
was Bishop Patrick Hepburn, who died in 1573. 

That the Loch of Spynie, on the south-eastern 
margin of which the castle is built, was an arm 


of the sea down to the time of Bishop Alexander 
Bar, who died in 1397, is proved by the Char- 
tulary of Moray, wherein it is stated that Spynie 
was a town and harbour inhabited by fishermen, 
and that boats and nets were kept by the Bishop 
for catching salmon and grilse and other fishes, 
and that he and his predecessors had exercised 
all rights of navigation. The Loch of Spynie was 
then five miles long, and in some places a mile 
wide, covering not less than 2500 acres. Now, 
since drainage operations on a great scale have 
been carried out, it barely covers 120 acres. 

After a couple of days most pleasantly spent 
in Elgin we returned to our yacht, and set sail 
for the Cromarty Firth, the " Portus Salutis " of 
the Komans, and the finest harbour on the east 
coast of Great Britain. The entrance is narrow, 
and guarded by two huge rocky portals called the 
" Soutars of Cromarty," beyond which a spacious 
landlocked basin extends for nearly fifteen miles. 
We landed and followed the path which winds 
round the summit of the southern Sou tar ; and 
a more delightful walk, or one commanding a 
greater variety of beautiful prospects over wood, 
water, and mountain, it would be impossible to 
find. From various points our view extended 


over the Moray, Cromarty, and Beauly Firths, 
the rich peninsula of Easter Ross, the massive 
form of the lofty Ben Wyvis, and the mountains 
around Strathpeffer and Inverness. The southern 
Soutar is well wooded, and in one place the road 
passes for some distance between an avenue of 
very fine Spanish chestnuts. Its opposite neighbour 
was once also thickly clothed with trees, but these 
have now entirely disappeared, having been cut 
down to clear off debt. The village of Cromarty 
stands on a peninsula a little to the westward of 
the lofty Soutars. At a distance its appearance 
is pleasing; but "distance lends enchantment to 
the view," for close at hand it shows poor and 
dirty. House -rent is miraculously cheap ; we 
heard of a house with ten rooms and a good 
garden, which was to be let for £9 a year. 

Early on a beautiful July morning we left 
Cromarty, and, favoured by a fine breeze, stood 
over for Nairn. The roadstead where we anchored 
is very much exposed to the north-east, and is 
so shallow that a vessel drawing ten feet must 
anchor nearly a mile from the shore, unless she 
is willing to run the risk of taking the ground 
at ebb-tide. When we landed there was a heavy 
swell at the mouth of the harbour, and we shipped 


a good deal of water in pulling through it. On 
reaching the inn we hired a dog-cart, and started 
for Cawdor Castle, one of the most perfect exist- 
ing specimens of an ancient Scottish baronial 
residence. It stands in a finely-wooded district, 
diversified near the castle by gentle wooded 
undulations, and rising in the distance into bare 
and lofty summits. The entrance to the castle 
is most impressive. Two magnificent elms tower 
np wards from the dry moat, and overshadow 
with their boughs the ancient walls and draw- 
bridge. Beyond this is a square, paved court- 
yard, on one side of which rises a lofty tower 
with walls of immense thickness, crowned by a 
sloping roof, with crows'-feet gables and projecting 
turrets at the angles. Besides this tower, the 
oldest and most central part of the structure, 
there are extensive additions in a suitable style 
of architecture. These were erected during the 
sixteenth century, and in one of the apartments 
is a fine stone chimney-piece richly carved and 
adorned with armorial bearings and grotesque 
devices. Amongst these are a mermaid perform- 
ing on the harp, a monkey blowing a horn, a cat 
playing a fiddle, and a fox smoking a tobacco-pipe. 
The long vaulted kitchen, the old tapestry, with 


its grim, quaint figures, and the castle dungeon, 
are also well worthy of notice. The dungeon is 
below the foundations of the great central tower. 
The trunk of an old thorn-tree stands upright in 
the middle of the floor, reaching to the roof of 
the vault, and close to it lies an antique iron coffer 
almost falling to pieces. According to tradition, 
the builder of Cawdor Castle was ordered, in a 
dream, to go to a certain place and dig until he 
should find an iron chest full of gold ; this he 
was to place on the back of an ass, and on the 
spot where the ass should stop of its own accord 
there he was to build a castle. The thorn-tree 
in the dungeon is said to be the very tree to 
which the founder tied his ass, and the coffer 
beside it is that which contained the gold which 
made the fortune of the family. Below the castle 
flows the burn of Cawdor, celebrated for the 
beautiful and romantic scenery of its banks. The 
license to build the castle bears the date of 1393, 
but the structure was not completed until half a 
century afterwards. In spite of this, however, an 
apartment in the tower is shown to all visitors 
as the room in which King Duncan was murdered 
by Macbeth, and the very bed on which he slept 
is also shown, although that respectable monarch 


was killed about four hundred years before the 
foundations of the castle were laid. A better- 
authenticated tradition is that which points out 
a remote and secret chamber as Lord Lovat's 
place of refuge for some time after the suppression 
of the rebellion in the Highlands. 

In the afternoon we returned to Nairn, re- 
embarked, and set sail for Inverness. The scenery 
between Fort George and the entrance to the 
Caledonian Canal is very beautiful. There are the 
fatal moor of Culloden, now in part concealed by 
thriving plantations ; the burgh of Fortrose, with 
the remains of its ancient cathedral ; gentle slopes 
covered with verdure, and dotted over with 
cottages and farmhouses, and handsome country 
seats embosomed in thick woods. Farther off lies 
the town of Inverness, its gaol and court-house 
and the spires of its churches standing out in bold 
relief, backed by a range of richly-wooded hills ; 
while the gray forms of loftier mountains fill up 
the extreme distance. We spent a forenoon at 
Inverness, where recruiting parties, flaunting in 
ribbons, and accompanied by bands of music, were 
actively endeavouring to procure men for the 
militia, now a difficult task in the Highlands, no 
longer the nursery of soldiers which they once were. 


It took us some time to achieve the tedious 
passage through the locks, but, once beyond them, 
we got sail on the cutter, and swept merrily along 
before a gentle easterly breeze. At the point 
where the canal and the river Ness flow out of 
Loch Dochfour the landscape assumes a charming 
sylvan aspect. Dochfour House is a spacious and 
elegant modern building in the Italian style, 
surrounded by woods, but commanding a fine 
prospect over Loch Ness, from which it is only 
about a mile distant. On emerging from the 
narrow waters of the canal into Loch Ness we 
hoisted more sail, and about eight in the evening 
cast anchor a cable's length from the shore, close 
to a wooden jetty at the entrance of the beautiful 
Glen Urquhart. The shores of the loch shelve 
downwards very suddenly. 1 Where we lay we had 
five fathoms of water on the side next the shore ; 

1 The greatest depth of Loch Ness has been ascertained to be 129 
fathoms or 774 feet, and it was generally believed that this was the 
deepest inland loch in the British Islands. Since then, however, Dr. 
John Murray of the Challenger Expedition has sounded Loch Morar in 
Inverness-shire, and has found it to be 1009 feet, or 235 feet deeper than 
Loch Ness. Quite recently Dr. Murray has carefully sounded Loch 
Katrine, having taken 548 soundings in different parts of the loch. 
The average depth of these is 236 feet, and the greatest depth is 751 feet 
or 125 fathoms. Loch Katrine is thus one of the deepest Scotch lochs, 
being 138 feet deeper than Loch Lomond and only 5 fathoms less than 
Locli Ness. 


while on the other side, but a few yards distant, 
there were seventeen fathoms. 

On landing next morning we walked to the 
pretty inn of Drumnadrochit, a favourite summer 
resort of the inhabitants of Inverness, and there 
procured a conveyance to take us on to Corry- 
mony, nine miles up the glen. Glen Urquhart is 
a wide, wooded valley, with gently-sloping hills 
rising on either side, thickly covered with natural 
wood ; a brawling stream, almost concealed by its 
dense fringe of foliage, winds through it, and the 
wdiole vale has an aspect of quiet and tranquil 
beauty — very different from the wildness and 
grandeur which characterise the majority of our 
Highland glens. Corrymony is surrounded by 
low swelling hills, thickly timbered ; but beyond, 
the scenery changes, and the woodlands are suc- 
ceeded by the brown heath and rugged mountains 
near Strathglass. The house has been recently 
built in the severe style of Scottish architect- 
ure. It is well suited to the scenery in the 
midst of which it stands, and does great credit to 
the taste and talents of the owner, who was his 
own architect. Within the grounds, a mile distant 
from the house, is one of the most beautiful 
cascades in the Highlands, where the fall of the 


water and the grouping of the rocks and foliage 
form a picture by the hand of Nature upon which 
no artist could improve. On our way back we 
passed a pretty place called Lakefleld, on the 
borders of a small loch, on whose bosom were 
floating islands of the beautiful water-lily in full 

In the evening, before the moon rose over the 
mountains on the southern shore of Loch Ness, 
we pulled across the bay to Castle Urquhart, one 
of the most extensive and picturesque ruins in 
Scotland. It is said to have been once a strong- 
hold of the Knights-Templars, and also played a 
part in the wars with England. The ruins encircle 
a rocky peninsula which projects boldly into the 
deep waters of Loch Ness, and on a crag almost 
overhanging the lake still stands the donjon keep. 
A wide, deep moat has been dug across the narrow 
neck of land which connects this peninsula with 
the mainland, and a drawbridge, whose piers are 
still standing, was formerly the only entrance to 
the castle. We were much struck with the extent 
of these ruins, as well as with the massive char- 
acter of the architecture. The archway over the 
entrance, and the vaulted guard-rooms on each 
side of it, are still entire. Within are green 


mounds, strewn with fragments of stone, and still 
encircled by the shattered remains of the ancient 
walls. One side of the keep has fallen, but the don- 
jon vault, in its foundation, is still entire, and access- 
ible by a narrow winding stair. Wild rose bushes 
are growing in the castle court, and some young 
ash trees bend their green branches over the time- 
worn walls. As we pulled away from the ruins 
the moon had begun to appear above the hills, and 
was shedding down a long pencil of silver light 
across the calm waters of the lake. The donjon 
tower soon intercepted our view, but we still saw 
her beams streaming through its shattered windows 
— as if a bright lamp had been suddenly kindled 
from within by an unseen hand — when all at once 
the light vanished, as a cloud crossed the disc of 
the moon. The effect was startling ; and a super- 
stitious Celt might have fancied some old warrior 
tenant of the castle revisiting the earth by the pale 
glimpses of the moon. 

One of our party had the misfortune to fall into 
Loch Ness in stepping from the rocks near the 
castle into the punt. He, however, sustained no 
damage beyond a thorough wetting, and the cir- 
cumstance was celebrated in the following serio- 
comic poem written on our return to the yacht : — 




'Twas evening, and within a bay 
Of deep Loch Ness our cutter lay ; 
Bill, Tom and Alick were the crew, 
And sailing-master Dawson too 
(A steady cautious old sea dog 
As ever handled lead or log) 
Steered her course with skilful art, 
By aid of compass and of chart. 
Darkly the mountain shadows lay 
Athwart the waters of the bay, 
And the clear and deep blue sky 
In the lake did mirrored lie ; 
And within the thicket's shade 
Not a leaf light murmur made, 
And not a sound the silence broke 
'Till our brave Commodore thus spoke : 
"Fairer night was never seen 
Smiling o'er Loch Ness I ween, 
And yonder Castle Urquhart old 
Ere I sleep I would behold, 
Where around the ruined keep 
The circling waters ceaseless sweep. 
The moon is nearly at the full, 
So we shall have a jolly pull ; 
You Abbot as bow, and Scott as stroke, 
While in my hands I take the yoke 
Lines, and steer for the ruins hoary 
Of which I wish I knew the story. 
Gently in landing over the stones 
If any regard you have for your bones, 
Or, if you wish a ducking to shun 
Ere our adventure's well begun ; 


And, as the castle wants a roof 

You'd better take a waterproof, 

For Highland skies, like woman's mind, 

You often will uncertain find." 

Thus cautioned them the Commodore, 

From out his wisdom's copious store ; 

Then stepping from the yacht, in front 

He lightly dropped into the punt, 

Or dinghy (a bad term for rhyme, 

No other word to it will chime). 

Him followed fast his trusty friends, 

And sat them down on their beam ends ; 

Each grasping in his hands an oar, 

They swiftly through the waters bore 

The gallant owner of the Spray 

Across Glen Urquhart's lovely bay. 

They reached the castle, their own steps were all 

That echoed within the deserted hall. 

The night was silent and still as death, 

There stirred not even the breeze's breath ; 

Sombre and stern the ruins frowned, 

And shattered wall and grass-grown mound 

Dark in evening's shadows lay, 

The donjon-keep showed grim and gray, 

Towering o'er the lake profound 

That swept its rocky base around. 

The wild brier rose grew fresh and green 

In the castle court the stones between, 

And close behind the old wall springing 

Graceful boughs the ash was flinging, 

As if pitying Nature would fain efface 

Of storm and time the deep-worn trace. 

The moon by this had clomb the height 

And o'er the waters threw her light, 

A silver column shimmering 


Across the dark lake glimmering ; 

It shone upon the Templars' hold 

And gleamed upon the ruins old ; 

It bathed in light each grassy mound, 

It edged with silver the walls around ; 

Each shattered fragment gained a grace, 

A holy calm beamed o'er the place ; 

The wrecks of time were half forgot 

In the heavenly light that bathed the spot. 

The pale moonbeams their soft spell threw, 

And silent stood the Spray's bold crew, 

'Till broken was that gentle spell, 

By words that from their leader fell : — 

" Komantic, very, these ruins old ; 

I feel delighted but rather cold, 

So let's be off now to the boat 

Where I have left my pilot coat. 

Pull away through the light ripple, 

On board the yacht and have some tipple, 

Water and moonlight are well enough, 

But whisky and water is better stuff." 

So said, so done ; away they go 
Where by the rocks the waters flow ; 
But alas for his garments ! alas for his bones ! 
The Abbot trips on the slippery stones ; 
Down he falls in the water splash, 
Over him the light sprays dash, 
But shallow here is deep Loch Ness, 
He's safe, though in a pretty mess ; 
And gaily he laughs as he scrambles out, 
For his temper is good and his heart is stout. 
Swiftly away from the rocks they pull, 
The Abbot is wet and the night is cool ; 
In vain he dreams of "warm within," 
With garments clinging to his skin, 


And looking like a half-drowned rat 

From shoe to smart tarpaulin hat, 

He longs for a pull at something hot, 

But a pull at the oar falls to his lot. 

The Templars have served him a slippery trick, 

But he grins and bears it like a brick. 

Over the waters fast they row, 

The wavelets sparkle round the prow. 

And now between them and the moon 

The ruins of the tall keep loom ; 

Time and storm have marred its pride, 

But many a year away shall glide, 

And still that massive tower withstand 

The wasting power of time's strong hand ; 

And many a mansion reared to-day 

Shall fall in premature decay, 

While it shall o'er the waters keep 

Its silent watch from yonder steep. 

Brightly through rents in the time-worn wall 

Glancing gaily the moonbeams fall, 

And through the windows of the keep 

In gleams of light, where 'neath the steep 

The shadows of the castle sleep 

Upon the dark lake's breast ; 
But quickly now a change has past, 
And o'er the clear moon gathering fast, 
Clouds in threatening masses rise, 
And soon her brightness fades and dies, 
And on the lake and o'er the skies 

The night's broad shadows rest. 
" Hurrah for the yacht, bring out the bottle, 
With something stiff I must wet my throttle," 
The Abbot cried, as up he sprung 
In garments moist that round him clung : 

" To-night of \ water I've had enough, 


So now I'll mix some stronger stuff. 

Come on, my boys, let us be jolly, 

And away with melancholy ; 

Here's to the Templars, those ' monks of the screw,' 

I doubt not that they were a jovial crew, 

Their vows they kept in a general way, 

And broke them but every other day. 

They swore to abstain from women and wine, 

And on the plainest food to dine ; 

Yet these same Templars would not shun 

A promising spree or a bit of fun : 

They loved the glance of a woman's eye, 

And even from kisses would not fly, 

Although the canon sternly chid, 1 

And all such naughty things forbid. 

They loved on rich ragouts to dine, 

And took like gentlemen their wine, 

And then they fought like thorough bricks, 

And made the Pagans cut their sticks. 

Then hip ! hurrah ! for the Templars bold, 

And hip ! hurrah ! for their ruined hold, 

Hip ! hurrah ! and one cheer more — -" 

When down upon the cabin floor 

The Abbot falls, and in his sleep 

Dreams of Urquhart's ruined keep. 

( )n leaving our anchorage we had at first a 
gentle breeze from the right quarter, but this soon 
died almost away, and after a tedious voyage we 
came to at a little distance from the mouth of the 
Foyers. We landed at a small wooden jetty, and 
after a pleasant walk through birch woods, reached 

1 See the Canon Be osculis fugienclis. 


the lower and principal fall, where the stream, by 
a single leap of seventy feet, precipitates itself 
from a ledge of rock into the black caldron beneath. 
The river was much swollen by rains, and on the 
projecting point where we stood we were almost 
deafened by the roar of the fall, and blinded by 
the whirling spray. The Fall of Foyers is generally 
snpposed to be the highest in Scotland ; but this is 
a great mistake. The Falls of Grlomack, on the 
stream that runs into the head of Loch Ling, on 
the coast of Koss-shire, are three times as high ; 
nor can a greater contrast be imagined than that 
presented by these two falls. At Foyers, though 
there are lofty and rugged rocks frowning over a 
deep chasm, there is also much verdure and beauty 
in the waving woods and the rocks tufted by grass 
and ferns. At the Glomack, on the other hand, 
there is neither tree, shrub, grass, nor fern ; all is 
desolation where the wild waters fling themselves 
over " the herbless granite." The Upper Fall of 
Foyers is only thirty feet in height, and is half a 
mile farther up the stream. A bridge spans the 
torrent just below the fall, and was some years ago 
the scene of a frightful catastrophe. The horses in 
the carriage of a Mr. Eose, of Inverness, took 
fright, and dragged the vehicle, containing himself 


and his two daughters, over the parapet of the 
bridge into the rocky bed of the stream below. 
One of the ladies was killed, and Mr. Rose and the 
other severely injured. To us it seemed a miracle 
that any of them should have escaped drowning or 
being dashed to pieces. 

We cast anchor for the night on the west side 
of the bay, near the entrance to Glen Moriston. 
The shores of the lake between that glen and Glen 
Urquhart are very picturesque, adorned with 
natural wood, with gray crags here and there 
breaking through. Between these two valleys 
rises the lofty summit of Mealfourvonie, the 
highest mountain in sight. During the day we 
tried the lead whilst lying becalmed, but found no 
bottom with 110 fathoms. We spent a Sunday 
at Glen Moriston, which was what Sam Slick calls 
" a juicy day in the country." The rain poured 
incessantly, and thick gray mists obscured the 
whole of the glen. There are, near its opening, a 
fine waterfall and a bridge and sawmill, which 
form an admirable subject for the sketcher. 

On leaving Loch Ness we had a pleasant sail 
through Loch Oich, passing the noble ruins of 
Invergarry Castle. The mountain-slopes on the 
banks of Loch Oich are covered with the most 


beautiful verdure from their summits to the very 
water's edge, and along the shores of Loch Lochy 
the pasture is also very luxuriant. There is a 
beautiful bay and good anchorage at its south- 
western extremity ; and two miles inland, separated 
by a lovely wooded valley, lies Loch Arkaig. At 
one point, the narrow path along this glen is, for a 
considerable distance, quite overshadowed by trees, 
whose branches meet overhead, and hence it is 
poetically termed by the Highlanders " the dark 
mile of Arkaig." The shores of Loch Arkaig are in 
places densely wooded, and its surface is diversified 
by islands, but on the whole the scenery around it 
is tame. 

After leaving Loch Lochy we had a pleasant 
passage along the canal and through the eight 
locks which form " Neptune's Staircase," and came 
to for the night near the sea lock leading down to 
Loch Eil. The dues through the Caledonian Canal 
are very moderate ; we paid only thirty shillings ; 
and for one shilling were furnished, at the entrance, 
with a chart of the canal, which we found most 
useful in pointing out the best anchorages. 

In spite of the threateniug aspect of the clouds, 
which lay piled up in heavy masses along the sides 
of Glen Nevis, two of us started to visit and sketch 


the old Castle of Inverlochy, about a couple of 
miles distant from where we lay ; but we had 
scarcely begun our sketches when a thunderstorm 
burst over us, and, leaving them unfinished, we 
were glad to hurry back, getting drenched through 
long before we reached the welcome shelter of our 
cabins. A beautiful morning dawned upon us 
after a stormy night, and by ten o'clock we had 
accomplished the passage through the sea lock, and 
were at anchor near the quay at Fort -William. 

As the weather was beautiful, our first care 
upon landing was to proceed to the Caledonian 
Hotel, the principal inn at Fort -William, and make 
arrangements for the ascent of Ben Nevis. These 
were soon effected ; sandwiches were cut, whisky- 
flasks filled, and we were just preparing for a start, 
when two gentlemen staying at the inn requested 
to be allowed to join our party. One was a young 
Dutchman, and the other a mercantile gentleman 
from the good town of Glasgow. Both were 
attired in black hats and trousers, and wore 
Wellington boots with thin soles. The Dutchman 
had never ascended a mountain in his life, his 
severest experience in climbing having been the 
ascent of the six hundred steps that lead to the 
highest platform on the spire of Antwerp Cathe- 


dral. However, though in both their cases the 
flesh was weak, yet the spirit was willing, and 
they subsequently displayed the greatest pluck 
and perseverance, in spite of their unsuitable dress 
and the excessive fatigue from which they suffered. 
In those days there was no royal road to the top 
of Ben Nevis, no Observatory, and no hotel, and 
the climb was a long and very steep one. The 
writer has been at the top of forty-seven mountains 
in Scotland over 3000 feet high, but none of them 
were much steeper than Ben Nevis was. The 
charge for the services of a guide is ten shillings, 
whether one only or a party of tourists ascend the 
mountain. Our guide was named Alexander 
Macrae, an ill-put-together, queer-looking Celt, but 
a capital walker, and quite a character, as, indeed, 
might easily have been divined from the roguish 
twinkle of his quick black eyes. The height of 
Ben Nevis above the sea is 4406 feet, all requiring 
to be ascended, as, unlike the generality of the 
Scotch and Swiss mountains, which rise from 
elevated plateaux, it rises at once from the sea- 
level. It is five miles from Fort -William to the 
summit, measured in a straight line, and from three 
to four hours are generally required to accomplish 
the distance. For more than a mile we proceeded 


along a level road, passing on our left the fort 
which gives its name to the town. On our right 
was the entrance to the beautiful Glen Nevis, and 
between us and the Lochy lay the ruins of the fine 
old Castle of Inverlochy, and at a little distance 
beyond it the Ben Nevis distillery, one of the most 
celebrated in Scotland, which for many years 
belonged to a man known throughout the High- 
lands as "Long John." We commenced the 
ascent by a very stiff pull up a grassy spur of 
the mountain, which slopes steeply upwards to a 
height of about 1200 feet. Many were the 
halts of our mercantile comrades, loud their com- 
plaints, and frequent their applications to the 
whisky-flasks, ere we gained the summit, and it 
required the greatest persuasion and encouragement 
to induce them to proceed ; the Dutchman declare 
ing that hills were not made for him, and that 
nothing would lead any of his countrymen to 
attempt such an exertion, did they only know the 
toil that awaited them. 

On surmounting this shoulder of the mountain 
we came to a comparatively level moss, crossed it, 
slanted along the corner of another offshoot of 
Ben Nevis, and then found ourselves on the banks 
of a dark mountain tarn, formed by the drainage 


from the steep sides of the hollow which it fills. 
Near this we came to a halt, before attempting the 
remainder of the ascent. The guide drank like 
a fish and smoked like a steam-engine, and in both 
these respects our companions imitated him. The 
day was charming, and the view already most 
interesting and extensive. After a short rest we 
again started, rousing our companions with con- 
siderable difficulty, who appreciated cold grog and 
cigars much better than climbing. We then 
commenced the most fatiguing part of our journey 
— over a perfect wilderness of loose stones of all 
sizes, utterly destitute of every trace of vegetation. 
These soon told upon the Wellington boots of 
our friends, and the Glasgow man at last lay down 
and fell fast asleep, and, on being aroused, was 
only induced to proceed by the appalling stories 
which our waggish guide invented and related 
for his benefit, of the mishaps of various tourists 
who had yielded to fatigue and fallen asleep during 
the ascent. From this point, however, he and the 
Dutchman alternately lagged behind and shot 
ahead of each other ; but both compelled the 
guide and ourselves to make frequent halts, till 
at length, about a mile from the top, observing 
some clouds drifting up from the southward, and 


fearful lest the view from the summit should 
become obscured, we started forward, telling the 
guide to remain behind and bring up the stragglers. 
Shortly before this we had made a second pro- 
longed halt at a spot called " The Well," where a 
spring of most delicious water gushes out from 
the stones. This "diamond in the desert" is 
about 3000 feet above Fort -William. 

Soon after leaving our companions we came 

upon a square patch of snow of considerable extent, 

and apparently of some depth, and, a little beyond 

it, caught sight of the stone cairn erected to mark 

the summit. Advancing towards it, we skirted 

the edge of a tremendous precipice, which goes 

sheer down 1700 feet into the dark glen below. 

The summit of Ben Nevis is an almost level 

surface, totally destitute of water and vegetation, 

and composed entirely of shattered fragments of 

stone. Close to the verge of the precipice, and 

on the highest point of the mountain, stands the 

huge cairn erected by the Trigonometrical Survey ; 

we clambered to the top of it, and stood on the 

loftiest summit in Great Britain, 110 feet higher 

than Ben Macdhui, which for a long time disputed 

the palm with Ben Nevis. The view all around 

was magnificent ; for months there had not been 


a clearer day on the top. To the northward 
we saw the sharp peak of Fannich, in Koss-shire, 
the serrated points of the Coolins, the fine 
mountain mass of Eum, part of Eigg, the Island 
of Mull, and the nearer land of Lismore. South- 
ward lay Ben Cruachan, Ben Ima, Ben Lomond, 
Ben More, Ben Lawers, and Schiehallion. To the 
eastward the huge mass of the Cairngorm moun- 
tains and Ben Wy vis were distinctly visible ; 
whilst, farther off, a silver line showed the distant 
waters of the Moray Firth. We saw both the 
eastern and western seas. Nearer were the white- 
topped stony peaks at the head of Glen Nevis, 
the sharp red points of the mountains above 
Glencoe, and those between that glen and the 
head of Loch Etive. At our feet lay Lochaber, 
marked by the gleam of its small blue lakes, 
Inverlochy Castle, Neptune's Staircase, Corpach, 
or the field of dead bodies, and the beautiful 
expanse of Loch Eil, at the head of which Prince 
Charles for the last time met the clans. 

Half an hour after we had reached the summit, 
we saw the guide approaching with our companions, 
both of whom, especially the Dutchman, we 
heartily congratulated on having at length reached 
the top in spite of fatigue and difficulties. We 


observed the Dutchman writing the name of 
la dame de ses 'pensees upon one of his calling- 
cards, and then dropping it into a hole near 
the top of the cairn, where, the guide assured 
us, lay the cards of some hundred tourists, who 
had thus " ticketed " Ben Nevis. Our friend also 
chipped off a fragment of stone to carry back to 
Holland as a souvenir of the hardest day's work 
he had ever undergone. After a lengthened stay 
on the summit and a glance into the precipitous 
chasm which opened on one side of us, and into 
Glen Nevis on the other, near the head of which 
streams down a slender thread of silver over a 
precipice 400 feet high, we commenced our descent, 
the burden of which might well have been " rattle 
his bones over the stones." The roughness of 
the road soon told on our companions. The 
Glasgowegian several times lay down and fell 
asleep, and the Dutchman declared that £500 
would not tempt him again to ascend Ben Nevis. 

By way of varying the route, we proposed 
to the guide to descend into Glen Nevis, wade 
across the stream, and return to Fort -William 
by the level road that runs alongside of it. This 
he at once agreed to, at the same time warning 
us that the descent would be very steep and rapid. 


About half-way down to the glen the stones ceased, 
and were succeeded by a steep slippery slope of 
verdant pasturage. Here we left our comrades in 
charge of the guide and of a handsome little 
Highland gillie, who had carried their coats for 
them, and had crossed all the stones on his bare 
feet, which were a good deal cut and blistered. 
We then descended at a rattling pace, passing 
through quantities of high ferns near the bottom, 
gained the valley, waded across the stream, and 
sat down on its grassy banks to await the arrival 
of our friends and their tail. It was amusing 
to watch them, some 1500 feet above us, 
toiling slowly and cautiously along, and the guide 
attempting to persuade them to adopt a more 
rapid mode of locomotion by sitting down and 
sliding along the slope. Of this he gave them 
a practical illustration, which the Dutchman 
attempted to follow, but apparently soon found 
that black cloth trousers were but an imperfect 
protection against the friction produced by contact 
with the steep sides of Ben Nevis, for he speedily 
resumed the perpendicular, and at length, after 
many a slip and stumble, succeeded in reaching 
the banks of the Nevis, followed at a considerable 
distance by his Glasgow friend. There he lay 



down on his back on the stony banks of the 
stream, and, holding up his Wellington-clad ex- 
tremities, entreated the guide to pull off his boots, 
which that worthy at last accomplished by dint 
of desperate tugging, which drew fortli the most 
ludicrous contortions and exclamations from the 
unfortunate Dutchman, who then rose and staggered 
towards the stream, which, though shallow T , ran 
with considerable rapidity. In the middle of the 
water he lost his balance, and, by way of steadying 
himself, thrust one arm to the bottom of the 
stream, and got himself wetted up to the shoulder. 
At length he reached the bank where we were 
sitting, and laid himself down at full length on 
the grass, dead beat. His friend now made his 
appearance on the farther bank, and the gillie 
performed the same kind office for him that the 
guide had for the Dutchman. Apparently, his 
Wellingtons were less obstinate, but when he 
arrived at our side of the river he was scarcely in 
better condition than his foreign friend. After 
some time allowed them to recover, our guide 
insisted on proceeding ; and once on a smooth 
and level road they got on famously, having really 
shown during the whole expedition great persever- 
ance, pluck, and good-nature. They were badly 


dressed, unaccustomed to walking, and drank and 
smoked too much, so that their exhausted con- 
dition on our arrival at Fort -William was scarcely 
to be wondered at. We returned to the yacht 
about six o'clock, well appetised, but quite free 
from fatigue. We found that our worthy sailing- 
master had met with an old acquaintance at Fort- 
William, had spent the day with him, and had 
returned on board in a state of perfect happiness 
and considerable inebriation, which produced a 
curious effect upon his somewhat saturnine tempera- 
ment. He was overpoweringly kind and attentive, 
smiling at everything and everybody, to the 
intense delight and amusement of the crew. 

We set sail from Fort -William early next morn- 
ing, bound for Ballachulish, in Loch Leven. The 
wind was unfavourable, and we had a dead beat 
to windward almost the whole way. At Corran 
Ferry, where the loch is only a quarter of a mile 
wide, the tide ran very strongly, the water all 
around us boiling and seething in eddies and 
whirlpools. Fortunately we had the ebb with us, 
and got through easily enough. During the day 
we sailed past the entrance of several beautiful 
glens, particularly Inverscaddle and Ardgour. 
Considerable care is required in entering Loch 


Leven, as, on one side, a long sandy spit runs out 
for a great distance, and on this the water is very 
shallow, but its extremity is marked by a red 
buoy. After rounding this we had to beat up 
through the Narrows, where, owing to the light 
and baffling wind, and tide against us, we ran 
aground, but luckily got off without any damage. 
In the afternoon we came to anchor close to the 
entrance of Glencoe, and not far from the Balla- 
chulish slate quarries, the debris from which, con- 
stantly thrown into the loch, has now formed an 
excellent harbour, where large vessels may lie 
afloat at all times of the tide. Near us were two 
or three small green islands, one of which has for 
centuries been used as a burial-ground by the 
Macdonalds of Glencoe and Lochaber. AVe lost no 
time in landing and setting out for Glencoe ; but 
we had only got a little distance beyond the old 
ruined house which was the scene of the massacre 
which has made the memory of King William 
infamous, when we were forced to beat a retreat 
by the rain, which poured down in torrents. 

On getting back to the yacht we turned in at 
an early hour, contemplating an early start next 
morning ; but we were not destined to enjoy un- 
broken slumbers, for, a little after midnight, we 


were all aroused by a tremendous row proceeding 
from the cabin where our worthy skipper was 
enjoying the sweets of repose and sleeping off his 
debauch at Fort -William. We found the ancient 
mariner yelling like a maniac, and twisting and 


writhing about as if in the last agony. In fact, 
he was struggling with the nightmare, and ap- 
peared to have decidedly the worst of the contest. 

Next morning was gray and cloudy, with 
drizzling rain, and the glen filled with drifting 
mist, curling in wreaths along the sides of the 
mountains. Notwithstanding which, armed with 
umbrellas, waterproofs, and whisky - flasks, we 


started to explore the far-famed beauties of 
Glencoe. Where it opens upon Loch Leven the 
glen is wide, green, and fertile, and the brawling 
stream of Cona winds along an almost level valley ; 
but, about two miles from the opening, it makes 
an abrupt turn to the left, and its character all at 
once assumes an aspect of rugged grandeur. On 
one side is the huge conical mass of Meall Mor, 
with its almost perpendicular sides ; near its 
summit yawns a lofty dark fissure, in an inaccess- 
ible position, which tradition has named the Cave 
of Fingal, who must have been a first-rate crags- 
man, and not at all nice in his choice of a lodging. 
At the base of Meall Mor lies a small dark lake, 
while on the opposite side of the glen rise sharp 
serrated summits, very similar to the peaks of 
Glens Sannox and Sligachan. Innumerable rills 
were rushing down the scarred and furrowed sides 
of the mountains, every gully forming a water- 
course ; whilst the stream of Cona, swollen by the 
rains, and every moment increasing in volume, 
swept foaming and fretting along its narrow 

Not far from the head of the valley stands a 
bridge, by which the road crosses a small rivulet, 
and from this point one of the finest views of the 


glen may be obtained. Whilst standing on this 
bridge and looking across to the opposite side of 
the valley, we observed at a considerable elevation, 
and near the head of a narrow watercourse, a deep 
circular hollow or corrie, with a mass of huge stone 
blocks piled in irregular heaps right across its 
opening. This appeared to us to have all the 
appearance of the terminal moraine of an ancient 
glacier. On our return, soon after we had passed 
the small lake of Triochtan, a beautiful effect of 
sunshine became visible in the glen : a brilliant 
rainbow spanned it from side to side, its whole 
dimensions being entirely within the valley, and 
the most exquisite prismatic hues were reflected 
upon the grass at the bottom of the glen, and upon 
the dark rocky masses along its sides. 

Before leaving Loch Leven we paid a visit to 
the slate quarries of Ballachulish, which give 
employment to several hundred hands. They do 
not seem to be worked with much energy, as we 
found fifteen vessels waiting for cargoes, some 
of them having been detained for months. The 
slates are inferior in quality to the Welsh, but 
more durable and cheaper. There is seldom a 
great stock on hand, and they take about three 
weeks to load a vessel of one hundred tons. Loch 


Leven extends about seven miles above the en- 
trance to Glencoe — deep, narrow, river-like — 
hemmed in by dark mountains with promontories 
and wooded knolls projecting boldly into the loch, 
and beautifully diversifying the character of its 
shores. Upon the whole, we are inclined to 
consider Loch Leven as one of the finest of our 
Scottish sea-lochs. It lies in the midst of beauties 
of the most varied and enchanting description : 
there are green islands, green wooded slopes, 
clumps of trees, with the blue smoke of cottages 
curling up from amongst the foliage, as well as 
dark glens and stern and sterile mountains. 
There is no weak point about the scenery ; it is 
" of beauty all compact." 

Bidding farewell to Loch Leven with regret, 
we set sail for Oban. The wind was from the 
northward, which here requires to be carefully 
watched. We met with heavy squalls whilst 
passing the high land of Morven, opposite the 
island of Lismore, and off the mouth of Loch 
Achray. We had to take in our topsail, double- 
reef the mainsail, and shift jibs, and even then 
had quite enough of it in the squalls. During 
the process of shifting jibs and reefing, our largest 
boat broke adrift, the skipper himself having made 


her fast with, what the event proved to be, but 
a " slippery hitch." Before we observed her, she 
had drifted a long way to leeward, and was fast 
approaching the rocky beach of Lismore, where 
she would soon have gone to pieces. About w T as 
the word, and we tacked in pursuit of her; twice 
we got alongside, and twice failed in securing her. 
The third time we got a grapnel from below, hove 
it aboard, and at last succeeded, at the expense 
of some damage to her thwarts, in again securing 
and making her fast. About four o'clock we 
reached Oban, and came to anchor in its safe and 
beautiful bay. 

We lost no time in pulling on shore, in order 
to lay in stores and to visit the ruins of the old 
Castle of Dunstaffnage (castle of two islands), 
situated on a peninsula near the entrance of Loch 
Etive, and three miles distant from Oban. Part 
of the structure is of unknown antiquity, and the 
ruins consist of four massive walls united at the 
angles by round towers. The view from the top 
of the castle, which is still accessible, is very 
extensive, embracing Loch Etive, Lochnell, the 
mountains of Morven and Appin, and the green 
mound which is supposed to mark the site of 
Beregonium, the ancient capital of the Picts. 


The Irish Scoti, or Dalriadic Scots, colonised, 
and for three hundred years occupied, this part 
of the Highlands, and Dunstaffnage is supposed 
to have been their principal stronghold. 

The next was a pet day — warm, calm, and 
bright — made for enjoyment and out-of-door 
existence. We spent the forenoon in wandering 
about the grounds, and in visiting the beautiful 
castle of Dunollie, thus graphically described by 
Sir Walter Scott: "Nothing can be more wildly 
beautiful than the situation of Dunollie. The 
ruins are situated upon a bold and precipitous 
promontory overhanging Loch Etive, and distant 
about a mile from the village and port of Oban. 
The principal part which remains is the donjon 
or keep ; but fragments of other buildings, over- 
grown with ivy, attest that it had been once 
a place of importance, as large, probably, as 
Ardtornish or Dunstaffnage. These fragments 
enclose a courtyard, of which the keep probably 
formed one side, the entrance being by a steep 
ascent from the neck of the isthmus, formerly 
cut across by a moat, and defended doubtless by 
outworks and a drawbridge. Beneath the castle 
stands the present mansion of the family. A 
huge upright pillar or detached fragment of that 


sort of rock called plum-pudding stone, upon the 
shore, about a quarter of a mile from the castle, 
is called Clach-na-can, or the Dog's Pillar, because 
Fingal is said to have used it as a stake to which 
he bound his celebrated dog Bran." 

In the evening we rowed to the south side 
of the bay, and afterwards ascended a low hill, 
from which, for a very small amount of trouble, a 
magnificent view may be obtained. This evening, 
in the light of a glorious sunset, every object was 
clearly defined : the bay and town of Oban, the 
castled crag of Dunollie, the green islands of 
Kerrera and Lismore, Morven, Appin, the Sound 
of Mull overshadowed by the lofty Ben More, 
and, in the opposite direction, the twin peaks of 
Ben Cruachan, and the huge mountains beyond, 
near the head of Loch Etive. The tints of some 
of the distant mountains were exquisitely beauti- 
ful, partly a rich purple, and partly a deep slate- 
gray, contrasting strongly with the gorgeous orange 
and golden hues around the setting sun. 

It was a fine but cold morning when we left 
Oban, bound for the Firth of Clyde. We made 
a rapid run along the Sound of Kerrera, through 
the Slate islands, past Scarba and the entrances 
to Loch Crinan and Loch Melford, and thence 


into the strait between the Island of Jura and 
the Mull of Cantire. We passed the whirlpool of 
Corryvreckan on our starboard hand, but, owing 
to the state of the tide, there were but few indi- 
cations of its existence. The wind, which had 
gradually been freshening ever since the morning, 
now increased to a gale. Fortunately it was a 
land wind, and there was little sea, but we had 
to strike our topmast, and double-reef the main- 
sail, and, even then, were carrying a plank of 
the deck under water. We passed several vessels 
running up the Sound for shelter under easy sail, 
and, as it would have been folly to attempt to 
round the Mull of Cantire in such weather, we 
determined to follow their example, and accord- 
ingly put about and ran for Loch Swin, a noble 
arm of the sea, which for ten miles indents the 
Mull of Cantire, forming a safe and spacious 
anchorage, with a clear entrance, and a depth 
varying from three to thirteen fathoms. We 
anchored a mile above Castle Swin, which occupies 
a commanding position on a projecting rock. 
Where we lay the water was smooth, yet it blew 
so hard all day that we were obliged to have two 
anchors out to prevent dragging. Next morning 
the gale had moderated, though it still blew 


freshly, and gray watery clouds were drifting 
along the hills. As the day wore on, however, 
the weather improved, and we were able to land 
and visit Castle Swin, which gives its name to 
the loch, and is believed to have been built by 
Sweno, King of Denmark. It forms an interesting 
memorial of those days when every bay and loch 
along our coasts was exposed to the incursions of 
Danish pirates, and when the kings of Norway 
not only possessed a large part of the Highlands 
and Islands, but even threatened the independence 
of the kingdom of Scotland. The people in the 
cottages near the castle assured us that it was 
twelve hundred years old — a degree of antiquity 
which we were inclined to consider very question- 
able. It is a magnificent old ruin, as large as 
Dunstaffnage, square in its general shape, but 
with a tall round tower projecting at one of the 
angles. We found the great court occupied by 
a patch of corn, the basement of the round tower 
turned into a kitchen-garden, and an inner court 
choked up by a rank growth of hemlock and 
nettles ; yet the proprietor is a man of immense 
fortune, a fraction of which might surely be spent in 
keeping this interesting old ruin in tolerable order : 
at present it suffers from the most utter neglect. 


Next morning we made a very early start, 
succeeded in rounding the Mull of Cant ire, of 
stormy fame, without encountering anything like 
rough weather, had a fine run up the beautiful 
Firth of Clyde, and finished a delightful month's 
cruise by dropping our anchor in the calm waters 
of Gourock Bay. 


' : 




Among the many arms of the sea which indent 
the western coast of Scotland between the Mull 
of Cantire and Cape Wrath, there is none that will 
better reward the adventurous yachtsman than 
Loch Etive, which stretches from its entrance, 
marked out by the noble ruins of Dunstaffnage 
Castle, first in an easterly, and then in a north- 
easterly direction, for more than twenty miles, and 
affords in the course of that extent a remarkable 
variety of grand and beautiful scenery. There are 
wooded headlands, winding bays, and valleys full 
of cultivated beauty, as well as frowning rocks, and 


lofty mountains with scarred and rugged sides, 
opening into deep corries, — the favourite haunts 
of the red-deer. In some places the gently-sloping 
shores let in the sunshine upon the broad bosom 
of the lake, while in others vast mountains cast an 
almost perpetual shadow over its narrow waters. 
The lower loch, between DunstafTnage and Bunawe, 
forms a striking contrast to the upper, between 
Bunawe and Grlen Etive ; the former, picturesque 
and sylvan, with low rounded hills, undulating- 
promontories, sequestered with fertile valleys, 
excites only pleasing emotions ; the latter, dark and 
narrow, with precipitous shores given up to the 
sheep and the red-deer, arouses feelings of awe and 
admiration ; while both united combine to form a 
whole which cannot be surpassed by any other sea- 
loch in Great Britain. 

At its entrance, a short distance above Dun- 
stafTnage, are the dangerous rapids of Connel Ferry, 
where the tide runs more than eight miles an hour, 
and, at ebb, breaks right across the narrow and 
rocky channel in one sheet of white foam ; while, 
to add to the risk, a rock, covered at high water, 
shoots up almost in the centre of the passage. It 
is therefore advisable for those yachtsmen who 
wish to explore Loch Etive to secure the services 


of a pilot at Oban, in order to guard against the 
dangers and difficulties of its navigation. 

The best winds for ascending Loch Etive are 
south or south-westerly, the most favourable for 
descending north-easterly. The Narrows must be 
passed with a leading wind and the first of flood 
ascending, and with slack water flood or the first of 
ebb in descending. 

Having made these preliminary remarks with 
regard to a loch, of whose very existence some of 
our readers may possibly be ignorant, we shall now 
proceed to the narrative of our cruise. At eleven 
o'clock on a fine July morning we sailed from Oban 
Bay in a cutter yacht of twelve tons, passing 
between the ivy-clad keep of Dunollie Castle, the 
ancient seat of the MacDougalls of Lorn, and the 
Maiden Isle, shaving the latter as close as possible 
in order to keep the deep-water channel. The 
tides at Connel, though only four miles distant, are 
two hours later than at Oban ; and when a vessel 
arrives too soon, or when the wind is unfavourable 
for passing the Eapids, she ought to anchor in the 
bay on the south side of Dunstaffnage Castle, where 
she will be perfectly sheltered, and may wait for a 
suitable wind and tide. The channel between Dun- 
staffnage and the larger of the two islands from 



which it takes its name is in some places very 
shallow ; but, by keeping near the centre, and 
somewhat closer to the island than the castle, all 
danger will be avoided. There is no passage be- 
tween the two islands, but there is a practicable 
channel on the northern side of the little isle. 
The view of the entrance to Loch Etive, shortly 
before arriving at Dimstaffnage, is exceedingly 
picturesque, and the sketcher would do well to 
draw r it from this point ; the grand old castle forms 
an admirable foreground, the contours of the deep 
Bay of Lochnell, with its wooded heights and 
silvery beach, are full of grace and variety, w-hile 
the distance is nobly filled up by Ben Durinish 
and the tw T in peaks of the lofty Ben Cruachan. In 
Lochnell Bay we observed the ruins of the castle of 
the same name accidentally burnt down some years 
ago, and the green mound which is supposed to 
mark the site of Beregonium, the ancient capital of 
the Picts. 

After passing Dunstaffnage we shaped our 
course for Connel, 1 keeping the point of the larger 

1 Connel is thus alluded to by Sir Walter Scott in the 1st Canto of the 
Lord of the Isles : — 

From where Mingarry, sternly placed, 
O'erawes the woodland and the waste, 
To where Dunstaffnage hears the raging 
Of Connel with his rocks engaging. 


island and the ferry-house in a line, passed the 
long gravelly spit of Lidiack Point, and shortly 
afterwards the Rapids ; where, as we had nicely 
calculated our time, and had a favourable breeze, 
we encountered neither difficulty nor danger. In 
passing, we kept the rock in the centre of the 
Narrows on our port hand, which is the best plan, 
though there is also a clear channel on the other 
side of it. The ferry at Connel, narrow in itself, is 
still further contracted by a reef of rocks which 
runs partly across it, and the roaring of this great 
salt-water cataract, during ebb tide, may often be 
heard ten miles off, though the fall is only about 
six feet. Owing to this inequality of the waters 
without and within, there is seven hours' flood and 
five hours' ebb at Connel ; and it takes two hours 
for the tide without to equalise the waters pressing 
down from within. Soon after getting through 
the Narrows we passed the beautifully - situated 
mansion house of Ardchattan, standing amidst 
thick woods and fertile fields. Near it are the 
ruins of the ancient priory of the same name, built 
by John MacDougall in the thirteenth century, and 
where Robert the Bruce once held a parliament. 
It was burnt by Colkitto during the wars of 
Montrose. The next point of interest was the 


village of Bunawe, about twelve miles from Oban, 
where Loch Etive receives its principal feeder, the 
river Awe, which issues from the side of the lake 
of the same name, and traverses the romantic j)ass 
of Brander on the flanks of Ben Cruachan, the 
scene of the defeat of John of Lorn by Kobert the 

At Bunawe the bolder features of the scenery 
around Loch Etive begin to develop themselves ; 
between it and Glen Etive there is no road, and 
the pedestrian must be content to scramble along 
mountain - sides, cross gullies and watercourses, 
wind round bays, and wade through bogs, before 
he can reach the head of the upper loch ; and even 
then he will have fifteen miles farther to walk 
before he gains Kingshouse, the nearest inn, a 
day's work sufficient to knock up any but the 
stoutest mountaineer. Above Bunawe the dangers 
of the navigation of the loch, w T ith the exception of 
those arising from sudden squalls, may be said to 
be over; there are no rocks or shoals, and, on both 
sides, there is deep water to within a cable's length 
of the shore. The huge base of Cruachan on one 
side, and the copse-clad crags of Ben Durinish on 
the other, confine its waters ; and farther up, 
Cruachan is succeeded by Ben Starav, opposed by 


the dark buttresses of Ben Trilleachan ; while at 
the head of the lake rise the sharp peaks of the 
three Buchails, the giant watchers of Glen Etive. 
On the sides of Cruachan open up the wild Glen Noe 
and the green and smiling Glen Kinglass, a beauti- 
ful pastoral valley watered by the Armaddie river, 
in which the fishing is first-rate, but most strictly 
preserved. The whole of the district around Little 
or Upper Loch Etive forms the Marquis of Bread- 
albane's deer forest ; his shooting-lodge is situated 
some distance up Glen Kinglass ; red - deer and 
gamekeepers are the lords of the mountains and 
streams, and any attempt to cast a fly either in 
the Etive or Kinglass will at once be stopped. 

Loch Ness generally enjoys the reputation of 
being the deepest lake in Scotland, but our 
Highland Palinurus assured us that this was a 
popular error, and asserted the superior claims of 
Loch Etive. There had been, he said, a tradition 
of long standing that, near Strono (as a bluff 
projecting boldly into the lake is called), its waters 
were fathomless, and this he, and some Oban 
fishermen, determined a few years ago to test. 
They accordingly procured 230 fathoms of line, 
fastened an anchor to the end of it, commenced 
sounding, and found the greatest depth off Strono 


to be 200 fathoms, or some hundred feet deeper 
than the deepest part of Loch Ness. In reality 
there is a considerable depression here, but only to 
the extent of about 200 feet. 

When about five miles from the head of the 
loch, and seven above Bunawe, the wind, which 
had all day been light and baffling, at last headed 
us, and we therefore anchored for the night close to 
the shore, a little below the granite quarries of 
Barr. There was a quantity of natural birch-wood 
all along the sloping banks above our anchorage, 
among which charcoal-burners were busily engaged 
in preparing charcoal for the use of the iron 
furnaces at Bunawe; and wreaths of blue smoke were 
curling up through the light green foliage, marking 
where the heajDS were smouldering, carefully watched 
day and night to prevent their setting fire to the 
surrounding trees. Loch Etive is very subject to 
sudden and violent squalls of wind from the high 
lands around, which require to be carefully guarded 
against. We were not, however, disturbed in our 
somewhat exposed anchorage, the rain which poured 
incessantly during the wdiole night being sufficient 
to damp the spirits of the most boisterous squall 
that ever roared across a Highland loch. 

Early next morning we got under weigh, and 


with a favourable breeze made sail for the head 
of the loch. After passing the granite quarries 
we entered upon the wildest and most rugged 
part of the scenery, a narrow reach of dark water 
blackened by the long shadows of Ben Starav and 
Ben Trilleachan. As the mists gradually cleared 
away from the mountain -sides and summits, we 
saw the effects of the heavy rains which had for 
some days been falling. Every gully and rift on 
the precipitous hill-sides was swept by a torrent 
pouring down in white foam, and the air was filled 
with the hollow sound of innumerable waterfalls ; 
the weather too was in admirable keeping with 
the stern character of the landscape around us ; 
wreaths of gray mist were drifting along the 
mountain - sides, now hiding their sharp peaks 
and deep ravines, and now floating aside and 
revealing them, while occasional gleams of sun- 
shine gilded the rocks above us, and lighted up 
the sullen waters of the loch. The sides of Ben 
Starav bear deep scars of the ravages of the 
winter torrents, which have in many places torn 
up the soil to a great breadth, and replaced it 
by a perfect chaos of stones and debris. On the 
opposite side, the vast mass of Ben Trilleachan 
rises almost perpendicularly, presenting a sue- 


cession of huge rocky buttresses towering up like 
the walls of some castle of Titans. Many of the 
crags are broken into singular and fantastic forms, 
and would afford Mr. Ruskin most curious ex- 
amples of " rock -fracture." There is a striking 
resemblance between this mountain and the hill 
of Meall Mor which rises above Loch Triochtan 
in Glencoe ; indeed the mountains around this 
upper reach of Loch Etive are very similar to 
those of Glencoe, which, however, cannot, in like 
manner, boast of a fine arm of the sea winding 
among their recesses. The distance between the 
two glens is not great, and there is a mountain 
pass near the head of Loch Etive well worth 
exploring, which after about three hours' rough 
walking will lead the pedestrian into Glencoe. 

The river Etive runs into the head of the 
loch through the glen of the same name ; it is 
an excellent fishing stream, but, like all those in 
this neighbourhood, strictly preserved. Although, 
however, river-fishing is prohibited, there is capital 
fishing for whiting in Upper Loch Etive, and 
those yachtsmen who are fond of it would do 
well to provide themselves with a store of bait 
from the mussel-bank off Bunawe. It is no un- 
common thing — at least so we were told — for a 


party of four fishermen (each working two hand- 
lines) to catch from two thousand to four thousand 
whitings in a single dav. Besides whitings there 
are other fish, denizens of Loch Etive, of a less 
attractive character, namely conger eels, which 
(according to our pilot) grow to between seven 
and eight feet long, and are almost as carnivorous 
as sharks ; indeed he tried to prevent us from 
bathing at Bunawe in case we should become 
food for eels. 

After remaining some hours at the head of 
the loch and walking a short distance up Glen 
Etive, dominated by its three Buchails, we re- 
traced our steps to the yacht, and at two o'clock 
set out on our return voyage. The wind un- 
fortunately was southerly, and we had the tide 
against us, so that we had to beat down the 
whole way, and were at last obliged about seven 
o'clock to come to anchor, a cable's length from 
the shore, in a beautiful little bay just above 
the embouchure of the river Awe. There is a 
store at Bunawe for the use of the workmen 
engaged in the granite quarries and foundry, at 
which biscuits, grocery, and occasionally butcher's 
meat may be procured ; but the yachtsmen ex- 
ploring Loch Etive ought not to trust to this, 


but should provide themselves with stores at 
Oban ; for as the Narrows at Connel can only 
be passed either way with a leading wind, they 
may possibly be detained several days within 
the loch. Above Bunawe nothing can be got ; 
and at the farmhouses below, the egas, butter, 

DO ' 

and milk are all bespoke by the public coaches 
which pass daily, so that they do not find it 
worth their while to sell anything to such birds 
of passage as yachtsmen. There is a fine view, 
looking up the loch from the spot where we 
lay, taking in Ben Starav and the glens between 
it and Cruachan, while the copse-clad crags of 
Ben Durinish come well in in the foreground ; we 
sketched the scene, and would beg to recommend 
it to our brother amateurs. 

Next morning was bright and warm with a 
light breeze, so we got early under weigh, and 
passed safely the dangerous bank off the mouth of 
the Awe which is not laid down in the charts. 
Keep it on the port hand going down, but do 
not shave the opposite shore too closely, as there 
are large stones off it ; below this the loch is 
deep and spacious. In the afternoon the wind 
failed us, and we were obliged to give up all 
hopes of getting through Connel until the follow- 


ing day. We therefore anchored in Stonefleld 
Bay, between the south shore and Macnab's Island, 
marked by a few plane trees and some traces of 
ruined buildings. This anchorage is more out of 
the tides than any other in Loch Etive. There 
was a glorious sunset ; the sun, sinking behind 
the Sound of Mull, threw a bright column of 
golden flame across the quiet bay where we w^ere 
moored, and the near hills in deep purple shadow 
brought out the warm tones of the sunset, while 
the eastern sky was of the deepest azure and 
without a cloud. 

To-day our invaluable pilot — -who is evidently 
impressed with the idea that we have not an 
adequate conception of the dangers of Connel 
Ferry, a place which, he told us, he never passed 
" without every hair of his head standing on 
end" — has been amusing us by relating appalling 
stories of the dangers of descending, which, he 
will have it, is much more hazardous than ascend- 
ing Connel. Three vessels, according to his story, 
are at this moment grating their ribs on the 
rocks at the bottom of the Narrows, having 
attempted to pass them at an improper time ; 
in one of these were two brothers ; their sloop 
struck upon the rock in the centre of the channel ; 


one tried to escape in the boat which was instantly 
swamped, and the other, while attempting to let 
go an anchor, was washed overboard and drowned. 
In the other two cases the vessels perished, but 
the crews were saved. He also told us that he 
remembered of twenty -three lives having been 
lost upon Loch Etive, chiefly from the overset- 
ting of boats in the violent gusts that rush down 
from the mountains ; and (awful to relate) none 
of the bodies were ever found, having fallen a 
prey to the carnivorous congers which infest the 
loch. The worthy pilot, however, draws a very 
long bow in everything that relates to the 
Highlands, and his stories require a large grain 
of salt to be swallowed along with them. 

According to him the crops in some places 
on the wild shores of Loch Etive are as early 
as in the Lothians ; the Hebrides are as fertile 
as the Isle of Wight ; and the cliffs of Staffa 
higher than those of the Giant's Causeway. His 
stories, however, of the difficulty and danger of 
descending Connel Ferry had their effect, and 
we began to be troubled with uneasy visions of a 
fortnight's detention in Loch Etive, of supplies 
running short, and of being reduced to eat the 
boy without pickles. These somewhat interfered 


with our tranquillity, though moored for the 
night in as quiet an anchorage as ever received 
a wearied sailor. Fortunately these presentiments 
of evil were soon dispelled, for next morning 
we started at six o'clock, passed Little Connel, 
where we were a good deal tossed about in the 
tide race, reached the Rapids just at the slack 
water on the top of flood, found everything 
almost as smooth as a mill-pond, and got through 
in perfect safety. Shortly afterwards we passed 
Ledaig Point, the channel between Dunstaffnage 
and the big island, and were snugly moored in 
Oban Bay by eleven o'clock. 

It may be mentioned for the information of 
those who would wish to visit the magnificent 
scenery of Upper Loch Etive, but who have not 
the opportunity of doing so in a yacht, that 
this may be done either from Bun awe or Oban ; 
the former is ten miles nearer to the head of 
the loch, and a boat may be hired for the day's 
excursion for about the same number of shillings. 
A very early start will be advisable, as there is 
fully twenty miles sailing or rowing, and if in 
addition to this the tourist is desirous of walk- 
ing some distance up Glen Etive, he will find 
the hours of the longest summer's day well-nigh 


exhausted before lie gets back to Bunawe. If, 
on the other hand, he prefers starting from Oban, 
he will have the advantage of a better boat and 
more experienced pilot than could be procured 
at Bunawe, but he will also have ten miles 
farther to go, and will require to remain all 
night at the head of Loch Etive in a cottar's 
or gamekeeper's house, unless he has had the 
precaution to take a portable tent along with 
him. This latter plan, however, although more 
expensive and occupying longer time, undoubtedly 
affords the best opportunities of studying and 
enjoying that unrivalled combination of lake and 
mountain scenery ; and we feel well assured that 
all those who may be induced to repair to the 
spot and there fill up for themselves the faint 
outline which we have endeavoured to sketch, 
will find themselves most amply rewarded for 
the time and trouble which the journey may 
cost. There are now regular steamers to the head 
of Loch Etive, which start from a sheltered bay a 
little above Connel Ferry. 

We would beg to direct the special attention 
of landscape-painters to this most magnificent of 
the Scottish sea-lochs ; the discomforts attendant 
upon a visit to its upper extremity, the fatigue, 


rude fare, and hard lodging, would be fully re- 
paid by the images of wild and stern grandeur 
with which it would store their portfolios and 
enrich their minds ; and we should rejoice to see 
its varied and almost unknown beauties presented 
to the public by the magic pencils of some of our 
great landscape-painters. 





The majority of tourists are like sheep, always 
following a leader and adhering closely to the 
beaten track ; and so it happens that some of 
the finest scenery, even in our own island, is 
still almost untrodden and unknown — without 
roads, inns, guides, coaches, or steamboats. Yet 
a little time and toil is well spent in visiting 
such spots ; and indifferent living and rough 
lodging are amply repaid by the freshness and 
magnificence of an almost virgin nature. There 
is more scenery of this description on the western 


coasts of the counties of Inverness, Ross, and 
Sutherland than in any other part of Great 
Britain. There, the shores are indented by a 
succession of sea-lochs running far up into the 
land ; some wide and spacious, others narrow 
and winding ; some with undulating banks green 
with rich pasture, or thickly clothed with natural 
wood ; some laving the feet of steep mountains, 
with bold gray crags breaking through the purple 
bloom of the heather, or the golden glow of the 
deer- grass and bracken. Between Cape Wrath 
and the Sound of Mull there are more than 
twenty such lochs, many of which are never 
visited by steamers, with but footpaths or rough 
bridle-tracks along their shores, and with no token 
of human habitation, except, at long intervals, 
the house of a sheep farmer, a shepherd's shieling, 
the hut of a charcoal-burner, or a gamekeeper's 
cottage. Yet the scenery around some of these 
arms of the western sea is unequalled elsewhere 
in Great Britain, and not surpassed even in 
Switzerland or the Tyrol. At different periods 
during the last ten years, we have visited most 
of them ; and we now propose to offer some 
description of Loch Hourn — one of the most 
beautiful and inaccessible — which we were in- 



duced to visit in autumn, by hearing an animated 
description of the grandeur of its scenery from 
a Highland gentleman resident in the neighbour- 
hood, whose debtor we have ever since considered 

If our readers will refer to a good map of 
Scotland, they will observe a long narrow channel 
called the Sound of Sleat, separating the island 
of Skye from the mainland of Inverness-shire ; 
and, about half-way up, and on the east side of 
the Sound, a deep indentation in the mainland, 
wide at the entrance but contracting at its upper 
extremity, and confined on each side by a barrier 
of lofty mountains :— this is Loch Hourn, or the 
Loch of Hell, easily distinguished from Loch 
Nevis (the Loch of Heaven), a few miles to the 
south of it, by the noble outlines of the lofty 
Ben Sgriol, which sweeps down in grand curves 
to the water's edge, and seems to guard the 
entrance of the loch. 

We started on our voyage to Loch Hourn 
from the little town of Tobermory, in the island 
of Mull, in a small cutter yacht, built by Fyfe, 
of Fairlie, and the winner of several cups at the 
Clyde regattas ; having previously taken on board 
as pilot an ancient Celt, yclept Hector McKinnon, 


who had been for forty years a sailor, and who 
undertook to bring us iri safety to the anchorage 
of Barrisdale, half-way up the loch. A strong- 
adverse tide detained us for a long time in passing 
the lofty promontory of Ardnamurchan, which 
marks the northern entrance of the Sound of 
Mull. At the foot of this promontory lies a 
small rocky island, of which our pilot related 
the following legend, which, so far as we know, 
has not yet found its way into any guide-book :— 
" In days of yore, the owner of this islet was a 
handsome young fellow, with no fortune but his 
good looks and this fragment of sea-beaten rock. 
However, he contrived to win the heart of a fair 
lady in a distant part of the country, but her 
relations were opposed to the match until they 
had ascertained what settlement the lover was 
able to make. Accordingly, they asked him what 
dowry he would give his bride ; to which he 
replied that, in his own country, he possessed 
an island which seven ploughs could not till, 
although they ploughed for a whole year, and 
that this he was willing to bestow on his bride. 
Nothing could be more satisfactory, and the 
young pair were happily married. On reaching 
her husband's country, the lady was naturally 


anxious to see the fertile island which he had 
so generously bestowed upon her. On which he 
showed her the barren crag at the foot of Ardna- 
murchan Point, and asked whether she thought 
that seven ploughs could cultivate it although 
they ploughed for a whole year." 

After passing Ardnamurchan, the wind fell to 
a very moderate breeze, and we had a pleasant, 
though somewhat tedious sail, passing close to 
the islands of Muck and Eigg, and in sight of 
the purple mountains of Rum, and the steep 
summits of the Coolin hills in Skye. We had 
made an early start from Tobermory, but it was 
evening before we came to anchor opposite the 
farmhouse of Barrisdale, which occupies a pictur- 
esque situation among a group of old trees at the 
foot of a mountain that slopes steeply upwards 
above a bay at the head of outer Loch Hourn. 
The outer loch is a spacious sheet of water 
about twelve miles in length, overshadowed by 
dark mountain masses ; but, fine as it is, it serves 
only as the vestibule to the exquisite scenery of 
Little, or Upper, Loch Hourn, which branches off 
from it in an easterly direction. On the morning 
succeeding our arrival, we rowed ashore and called 
on Mr. McDonell, whose ancestors, for several 


generations, have occupied the farm of Barrisdale. 
He himself is a hale, handsome old gentleman, 
descended from those Macdonells of Glengarry 
whose domains once extended from Loch Hourn 
to Fort Augustus, but are now divided between 
Mr. Ellice and Mr. Baird, a rich ironmaster, 
who possesses the whole country around Loch 
Hourn and between it and Loch Nevis. 

From our anchorage the loch seemed entirely 
landlocked, and divided into three bays, sur- 
rounded by mountains. To the seaward stretched 
a wide expanse of water, overshadowed on one 
side by the lofty Ben Sgriol, whose lower slopes 
are thickly clothed with natural wood, which 
adorns, without enervating, the grand curves of 
the mountain ; and on the other by green hills, 
broken by gray crags, and furrowed by ravines, 
beyond which tower sharp rocky pinnacles rising 
from wild corries, the haunts of the red -deer 
and the eagle. Such a green hill-side with a deep 
corrie behind it, over which frowns a steep serrated 
ridge, rose immediately above our anchorage. 
Ladhar bheinn, the highest point of this ridge, 
is 3343 feet above the sea, or nearly as high 
as Snowdon. To the south-east, we looked 
into the deep bay of Barrisdale, at the head 


of which — rare sight in these wild Highlands 
— the mountains separate, and leave room for 
a considerable tract of level meadow-land, where 
rows of tall poplars, clumps of ancient ash 
and plane trees and thriving crops of corn 
and turnips, gave a sylvan and almost low- 
land aspect to the landscape, offering a striking 
contrast to the iwg;ed srandeur of the surround- 
ing scenery. Beyond this strip of meadow-land 
rises a noble mountain, varied and picturesque in 
outline, with its lower slopes and ravines richly 
wooded. The whole aspect and character of the 
scenery around Barrisdale is more Tyrolese than 

Our venerable pilot proved exceedingly com- 
municative of his nautical experiences, especially 
under the exhilarating influence of a glass of 
whisky, and this morning he spun us the follow- 
ing extraordinary, and not very credible, yarn : — 

"Many years ago, he was at Eiga with his ship, 
and he, along with several of his comrades, went 
ashore, where — sailor-like — they got very drunk. 
Hector was the worst of the lot ; and as his 
shipmates could not induce him to follow them, 
they allowed him to shift for himself, and returned 
to their ship. Left to himself, he staggered along 


for some distance, and at length fell insensible 
in the street. At this time cholera was raging 
in Eiga ; and just as Hector fell, the dead cart 
was making its daily rounds, when, seeing him 
lying speechless and motionless in the street, its 
conductor at once concluded that he had fallen 
a victim to the £>higue, threw a rope round his 
body, and tossed him into the cart. He was 
restored to consciousness by being pitched out of 
the dead cart into a large pit nearly filled with 
bodies in various stages of decomposition, and with 
difficulty managed to writhe himself clear of the 
lime which was thrown over them in considerable 
quantities. Fully recalled to his senses, but 
almost paralysed by the horrors of his position, 
he at last, after many efforts, contrived to struggle 
out of the pit, and make his way back to the town ; 
where his appearance — pale, ghastly, and sprinkled 
over with the lime which he had not been able 
wholly to avoid — struck terror into every one, 
so that he had clear streets as — literally risen from 
the dead — he tottered along, and with difficulty 
regained his ship, where it was some time before 
he recovered from the effects of the drunken frolic 
so nearly brought to a horrible termination." 

We think that this anecdote of Hector s might 


be admirably worked by temperance lecturers, to 
whom we beg most respectfully to present it. 

But — to return from Eiga to Loch Hourn— 
beautiful as Barrisdale is, we had yet by far the 
finest part of the loch to explore ; so, getting into 
our punt, we started, a little past eleven o'clock, 
to row to the head of it, a distance of more than 
six miles from our anchorage. Several small rocky 
islands lie across the entrance of the upper loch, 
above which it forms three reaches, connected by 
narrows, through which the tide runs with great 
violence. Little, or Upper Loch Hourn, runs nearly 
east and west, forming an obtuse angle with the outer 
and larger loch. Its northern shores are bounded 
by picturesque mountains, nearly 3000 feet high, 
covered for two-thirds of their height with the 
most lavish growth of natural wood — birch, ash, 
oak, and alder. The mountains on the opposite 
shore are about the same height, but more rugged 
and bare, though covered in many places with good 
pasturage, and dotted over with trees, singly or in 
groups. At various spots on both banks there 
are crags projecting boldly into the water, and, 
in some instances, rising precipitously for a couple 
of hundred feet. Some of these are masses of 
bare rock ; some have tufts of heather, or bunches 


of fern, growing from their crevices ; others are 
almost buried beneath luxuriant foliage ; and one 
—a most picturesque crag — bears a solitary old 
Scotch fir-tree on its topmost pinnacle. There 
is no monotony — the great fault of the scenery 
of most of our Scottish lochs — about Loch Hourn, 
but, on the contrary, an endless, inexhaustible 
variety and grandeur. There is the sublimity of 
the upper reach of Loch Etive, in Argyleshire, 
where its narrow waters are darkened by the huge 
bulk of Ben Cruachan and Ben Starav, combined 
with the quieter beauty of the Trossachs, Winder- 
mere, or the Lower Lake of Killarney. At several 
points there are waterfalls, tumbling over a face 
of bare rock, or sparkling through a thick fringe of 
foliage, and here and there, along the shore, the 
thatched cottage of a fisherman, with brown nets 
hung up to dry. After a long pull, we reached 
Loch Hourn-head, where we left our boat, and 
walked for a couple of miles up the beautiful pass 
that leads to Tomdown Inn, and to the town of 
Inverness, the former sixteen, and the latter sixty- 
seven miles from Loch Hourn-head. A bare pre- 
cipitous mountain, called Buidhe Bheinn, towers 
above the head of the loch, and on its flanks, to 
the left of the road leading up the pass, is a 


deep ravine, into which falls a lofty and pictur- 
esque cascade ; while, about a mile farther up, is a 
<juiet little lake with a broad green margin of 
rushes, through which flows the stream that runs 
into Loch Hourn-head. From what we saw of this 
pass, we feel convinced that it would well repay 
the adventurous pedestrian. On our way back to 
the cutter, we were much detained by the strength 
of the flood tide, had to hug the shore to avoid its 
force, and had several desperate spurts against it 
in the Narrows, where it ran like a mill-race. We 
had kept along the south shore in ascending, and 
now, in returning, we kept close to the northern or 
wooded bank, and had again occasion to admire 
the profusion and bounty of nature, in clothing 
these steep mountain-slo}3es with such a close and 
graceful mantle of varied shades of green. It was 
past six o'clock when we reached our vessel, not at 
all sorry to rest, after a six hours' pull against a 
strong tide. The waters of Upper Loch Hourn 
seem absolutely alive with fish. With a single 
line of small cord, lightly leaded, and a couple of 
salmon flies, we caught, during the short time we 
could spare for fishing, seven dozen of fish — lythe, 
sethe, and small cod — varying in weight from half 
a pound to two pounds and a half. On the rocks 


along the shore there is an inexhaustible supply of 
bait in the shape of mussels, so that to those fond 
of sea-fishing Loch Hourn offers great attractions, 
in addition to the charms of its unrivalled scenery. 

We now request our readers to accompany us 
from Loch Hourn through the Sound of Sleat to 
Portree in Skye, and afterwards to Stornoway in 
the Lewis. 

We left our anchorage at Barrisdale at the 
entrance of outer Loch Hourn, early on a fine 
autumn morning. There was but little wind, and 
that blowing right up the loch, so that we had a 
dead beat till we got into the Sound of Sleat, in 
the course of which we got occasional glimpses of 
the glorious scenery of the upper loch, and more 
thorough views of the fine mountains and corries 
that border the shores of the outer and wider arm. 
There is a rock nearly in the middle of the 
entrance to the loch, but always above water, to 
the westward of which the water is shallow for 
about a cable's length. It will be avoided by 
bringing Arclnaslish Point on, or nearly on, the 
Point of Sleat. Once in the Sound of Sleat, the 
wind was fair, and freshened as the clay advanced, 
so that we bowled along at a rapid rate with all 
sail set and everything drawing ; passing on the 


mainland side the beautiful Bay of Glenelg with 
its ruined barrack, built to overawe the Highlands, 
the entrance to the picturesque but squally Loch 
Duich, and the fine scenery around Loch Alsh ; 
and on the other side, the lofty mountains of Skye, 
towering above the narrow waters of the Strait. 
Near Kyleakin the wind became light and baffling, 
and for a time we were becalmed ; but a brisk 
though adverse breeze springing up, we had a fine 
beat through the Narrows where the tide runs 
six miles an hour. But wind and weather are 
proverbially fickle in these narrow and landlocked 
waters, and you may have sun and shower, clear sky 
and dense mist, a calm, a breeze, and a gale of wind, 
all within the space of twenty-four hours. Scarcely 
had we got through the Narrows, when the breeze 
again fell, though as night darkened down it rose 
a little. But it was five o'clock on Friday morn- 
ing before we reached Portree, though we had left 
Loch Hourn at ten on Thursday forenoon, and had 
carried a fine breeze with us from the mouth of the 
loch to Balmacara. In the course of the clay we 
passed two ruined castles, one on the mainland, 
and the other in Skye, both most attractive in 
ruins, and offering admirable subjects to the 
sketch er. The one, Eilan Donan Castle, stands 


near the entrance of Loch Duich. It is by far the 
larger and more ancient building of the two, and 
was the chief stronghold of the Mackenzies of 
Kintail, built in the time of Alexander the Second, 
as a defence against the ravages of the Northmen. 
The other ruin, Castle Moil, is situated close to 
Kyleakin, and is most picturesquely perched on a 
beetling and sea-beat crag. If the wind happens 
to be off the Skye land when the yachtsman is 
passing this old fortalice, he may perchance have 
cause to remember it, for sudden squalls rush down 
like eagles from that wild highland, and while 
bowling along with a steady breeze he may 
suddenly catch a puff that will compel him to luff 
up sharp, and perhaps lower his peak and haul up 
his main -tack. With the wind either blowing 
from the Skye land, or out of Loch Duich, the 
steersman had better keep his weather eye open. 

Portree — the King's Harbour — so called from 
James the Fifth having landed there when on a 
visit to the western islands, is well sheltered, and has 
good holding ground, the depth varying from five to 
fourteen fathoms. The entrance lies between two 
lofty headlands, and there is no danger, except a 
rock partly above water, about half a cable's 
length from the point on your starboard hand on 


entering. The most interesting object in the 
neighbourhood of Portree, — which is in general 
very bleak and sombre, — is the Storr hill about 
seven miles distant in a northerly direction, which 
will be found fully described in the first cruise. 

We remained only a single day in Portree, and 
at five o'clock on a stormy September morning, after 
the usual preliminary plunge over the side, started 
for Stornoway, the capital of the Lewis. Our course 
was about north and by east, and as the wind was 
blowing nearly from that direction we had the 
prospect of a long and stormy beat before us. 
With this wind, there is generally a heavy sea in 
the Minch, as the broad channel between Lewis 
and the mainland is called, especially when the 
tides which run pretty strong here happen to meet 
it. The distance from Portree to Stornoway is 
upwards of fifty miles, and the sail is a very 
interesting one, commanding fine and varied views 
of the bold cliffs and hills of Skye; the barren 
rocks of Raasay ; the lochs and mountains of the 
mainland ; the islands of Lewis and Harris ; and 
the distant and mountainous group of North Uist, 
Benbecula, and South Uist, the last conspicuous by 
the bold conical peak of Hecla, which rises nearly 
2000 feet above the sea. 


After getting clear of Portree, we had a tedious 
beat through the Sound of Raasay, and had ample 
opportunities to study and admire the bold line of 
cliffs that stretches from Portree-heads all the way 
to the Point of Aird, the northernmost promontory 
of Skye. The Storr with its strange fantastic 
pinnacles and coronet of precipices, looked like 
some ruined castle of Titans ; and farther to the 
north we got a glimpse of the rocks that encircle 
Quiraing, the greatest geological curiosity in Skye. 

On leaving the Sound of Raasay, we made a 
Ions; tack towards the Scottish coast in the direc- 
tion of the peninsula between Gairloch and Loch 
Ewe, which seemed in the distance a long low 
line of land covered with the most beautiful 
pearly haze. The lofty mountains around Loch 
Maree, and in the district of Gairloch, were seen 
to great advantage, and looked more and more 
imposing as we drew gradually nearer to them. 
On the opposite tack we had to contend against 
both wind and tide, and took a long time to 
weather the Skye land. Off the Island of Trotta, 
to the north of the Point of Aird, so strong was 
the tide, that for some time we did little more 
than hold our own. Soon afterwards the wind 
began to freshen considerably, and towards even- 


ing it blew half a gale ; but we hove the little 
cutter to, double-reefed the mainsail, reefed the 
foresail, reefed the bowsprit, and shifted jibs, 
after which she behaved beautifully, going over 
the seas like a duck and shipping no heavy water. 
Not far from the mouth of Loch Seaforth in Lewis 
— a splendid harbour capable of containing the 
whole British Navy — lies a curious group of 
basaltic rocks called the Shiant Islands, rejoicing 
in the unpronounceable names of Garivelan, Ilan 
Wirrey, and Ilanakilly. To the westward of the 
first-named islet there are three or four rocks 
above water, the highest of which is called Galti- 
more ; and to it a good berth must be given 
when passing to the westward, as a quarter of a 
mile west of it lies a rock which dries at half-ebb. 

By the time we had passed the Shiant Islands, 
night had fallen and the weather was exceedingly 
bad, blowing a gale and raining heavily. We 
had two of the best harbours in the Hebrides 
under our lee — Loch Seaforth and East Loch 
Tarbert — and for a moment we thought of running 
into one of these for shelter, but soon— determined 
not to be beat — we made up our minds to hold 
on and thrash the little beauty through it, AYe 
had the guidance of the bright fixed light on 


the island of Scalpa, and when we lost that we 
sighted the Stornoway light ; and at length, after 
twenty-three hours of a hard struggle against 
wind and sea, we had the satisfaction of dropping 
our anchor at six o'clock on Sunday morning 
in the sheltered waters of Stornoway Bay, wet 
through and thoroughly tired, but highly pleased 
at having made out our destination in spite of 
wind and weather. 

Stornoway is a spacious and excellent harbour ; 
and in beating in you have only to remember to 
give Arnish Point and also the Point of Holm a 
^ood berth. The best anchorage is above the 
little island near the town at the head of the 
bay. All hands being thoroughly tired, it was 
mid-day before we turned out of our berths. On 
getting on deck, the most prominent object that 
met our eyes was the Elizabethan mansion of 
the late Sir James Matheson, then proprietor of 
the Lewis, built on a green slope, and surrounded 
by slowly-rising but healthy-looking plantations. 
It stands close to the thriving town of Stornoway, 
from which it is separated only by a narrow 
creek almost dry at low water. The west side 
of the bay is occupied by the grounds belonging 
to Stornoway Castle. Nature has supplied a 



succession of rocky knolls of different heights, 
clothed with heather, grass, and ferns, and 
indented by a number of creeks and gravelly 
bays; while Art — at an expense of £15,000 or 
.£20,000 — has clothed these knolls with a great 
variety of wood — pine, ash, elder, birch, elm, 
holly, etc. — and cut a profusion of winding 
walks, laid out with great taste, and kept in 
perfect order. Some of the creeks are highly 
picturesque, especially that formed by the estuary 
of the little river Creed, across the mouth of 
which lies a small rocky islet covered, like the 
rest of the shore, with heather, grass, and ferns. 
The wood which Sir James has planted on the 
pleasure-grounds attached to his castle has been 
reared in despite of nature, and, as before men- 
tioned, at immense expense. It was of about 
thirteen years' growth when we saw it, and yet 
none of the pines were above twelve feet high. 
But, though stunted in growth, most of the trees 
seemed healthy and thriving. 

No stranger should visit Stornoway without 
ascending the highest of the knolls in the castle 
grounds, which rises just above the best anchor- 
age in the bay. Perhaps with the exception of 
Killiney Hill near Kingston, and the Calton Hill 



in Edinburgh, no spot in the United Kingdom 
of equally easy ascent commands so extensive 
and varied a prospect ; while the extreme clear- 
ness of the autumnal atmosphere in this northern 


locality lends remarkable distinctness even to the 
most distant objects. The afternoon on which 
we climbed this hill was calm and clear, so that 
we saw the view to the best advantage. 

Close at hand, we commanded the fine bay 
of Stornoway ; the residence and grounds of Sir 
James Matheson ; the wild, brown, undulating 


moorland region to the westward of the hay; the 
well-cultivated peninsula on which the town of 
Stornoway stands ; Loch Tua or Broad Bay, on 
whose sandy shore a heavy surf was breaking ; 
and the flat bleak moor stretching away to the 
northward of it. To the south lay the moun- 
tains of Harris ; and beyond, to the eastward 
and southward, a wide expanse of sea, bounded by 
that unrivalled range of mountains that stretches 
almost from Cape Wrath to the entrance of Loch 
Ewe. In the extreme distance, Cape Wrath itself 
was visible, low and blue, on the very verge of 
the horizon. 

The second day after our arrival in Stornoway, 
I parted with much regret from my good friend 
A, with whom I had enjoyed a delightful three 
weeks' cruise among the islands and lochs of the 
west coast of Scotland, — T going south in the 
good steamer Clansman, and he beginning his 
preparations for taking his little cutter round 
Cape Wrath and to the Orkney Islands, by pro- 
curing a pilot, getting his cockpit boarded over, 
and otherwise having everything made as snug 
as possible. 

An amusing incident preceded our parting : 
A was anxious to provide himself with a warm 


pea-jacket, as the nights were getting cold, and 
I accompanied him in his search through various 
shops in Stornoway. But in none of them could 
he find a jacket large enough to cover his goodly 
proportions ; so that he had to order one to be 
made, and the amazement of the tailor who 
measured him — a little shrivelled specimen of 
humanity — was ludicrous, when he looked at his 
measuring tape and read forty-three inches round 
the chest, and thirty-two round the waist — the 
Celts in these parts never running so large. 
However, he was loud in his admiration of A's 
athletic proportions. 





In former days the coasts of Britain were 
often ravaged by the adventurous arms of the 
Scandinavian Vikings, whose war -galleys were 
for three centuries the scourge and the terror 
of Europe. Olaf of Norway, in one of his 
plundering expeditions, destroyed London Bridge, 
and little more than six centuries have elapsed 
since the Orkney and Shetland Isles, the counties 
of Caithness and Sutherland, the Hebrides, and 
the western coast of Scotland from Cape Wrath 
to the Mull of Can tire, were subject to the 
sway of the Norwegian crown. Traces of that 
rule yet remain in the common speech of the 
Shetlanders, among whom nearly two hundred 
words of Norwegian origin are still in ordinary 


use. No one, therefore, acquainted with the 
history of the past, can fail to look upon Norway 
with a lively interest from the stirring historical 
associations which yet linger around her; and, 
when to these are added the beauty, variety, 
and grandeur of her mountains and fiords, it 
must be admitted that a voyage to the home 
of the ancient sea-kings, and the cradle of that 
stalwart Norman race which gave a king and a 
nobility to England, presents attractions of no 
ordinary kind. Such a voyage too is easily 
accomplished during the summer season, even 
in a vessel of very moderate dimensions, though 
we should not exactly like to attempt it in an 
eight -tonner like the lively little Pet, which 
twice bore her clever and adventurous owner 
from England to the Baltic. Only a narrow sea 
separates the Shetland Islands from the opposite 
coasts of Europe, and no better point of de- 
parture can be selected for a yacht-cruise to 
Norway than the safe and spacious harbour of 
Lerwick, from which, on a bright July morning, 
we set sail, bound for the mouth of the Bommel 
Fiord. Our vessel was a stout cutter of thirty- 
five tons, a capital sea-boat, manned by four 
hands and a steward, and carrying besides, her 


owner and three friends, amply provided with 
fishing-rods, rifles, sketching materials, and other 
requisites for making the most of a short visit 
to " Gamle Norge." 

It was eight o'clock when we took our 
departure, and, although we had a fresh and 
favourable breeze, many hours elapsed before 
we lost sight of the magnificent promontory 
of Noss Head, which rises abruptly 700 feet 
above the waves of the northern ocean. At nine 
next morning we were in sight of the rocky 
island of Udsire, conspicuous from its twin red- 
painted light -towers. On getting close to the 
island, we hove to, and hoisted the signal for a 
pilot, and soon observed a small fragile skiff 
sailing out from the island to board us. There 
was a heavy sea running, and, in the trough 
of the waves, we could see nothing but the top 
of her mast. The pilot was a remarkably good- 
looking young fellow, with fair hair, bright com- 
plexion, and tall athletic figure. After taking 
him on board, we stood away for the Bommel 
Fiord, the entrance to which is guarded on either 
side by low barren rocks, one hundred acres of 
which would scarcely feed a single sheep. With 
the exception of this utter sterility, the general 


aspect of the scenery at this point much resembles 
that of a sea-loch in the Western Highlands of 
Scotland. As we advanced, however, the land- 
scape improved ; clean wooden cottages with tiled 
roofs were perched among the rocks, and grass 
and trees began to appear. We passed several 
gaudily-painted vessels descending the fiord. One 
of them, in a coat of green, black, and yellow, 
all of the brightest tints, and carrying every 
sail set, was yet a most picturesque -looking craft, 
and would have delighted a painter's eye. 

Near the snug little village and harbour of 
Mosterhaven (above which the fiord assumes the 
name of Hardanger), we observed a most primitive- 
looking lighthouse built of wood, painted white, 
and with a tiled roof, perched upon a cliff but 
little elevated above the level of the fiord. Close 
to Mosterhaven our pilot landed, and we procured 
another who was to convey us first to Bondhus 
on the Moranger Fiord, and afterwards to Vik, 
at the head of the Hardanger. The pilot who 
brought us from Udsire to Mosterhaven, a distance 
of twenty-seven miles, had inherited a double 
portion of the plundering propensities of his 
piratical ancestors. He had the assurance to 
demand £2 for his four hours' work, and we 


ultimately succeeded in beating him down to 1\ 
dollars, an exorbitant sum for all that he had 
done. Like most of the Norwegian pilots, he 
asked for " schnapps ? ' the moment he came on 
board, and tossed off a glass of strong Scotch 
whisky as if it had been water. His successor 
was an old man, still hale and active, apparently 
about sixty years of age, but, according to his 
own account, seventy-five, with a face whose skin, 
in colour and texture, resembled old parchment 
from constant exposure to the weather. He wore 
a sou'- wester hat, an old patched jacket, trousers 
of coarse gray stuff, and a waistcoat of pilot cloth, 
over which the trousers were buttoned, and he 
brought with him a bag made of coarse sacking 
which contained his pea-jacket and other articles 
of clothing. 

Above Mosterhaven the landscape becomes 
finer and more varied : the broad bosom of the 
fiord is dotted over with islands ; innumerable 
bays and creeks indent its shores ; small hamlets 
and villages nestle in all the more sheltered and 
fertile spots ; the hills and crags are fringed 
with wood, and high mountain peaks and snow- 
crowned ridges begin to appear in the background. 
The distance from Mosterhaven to the village of 


Bondlms at the head of the Moranger Fiord is 
about fifty miles, and at the point where that 
fiord diverges from the Hardanger, the scenery 
is particularly grand and impressive. A green 
wooded promontory stretches almost across the 
opening of the Moranger, so that entrance seems 
at first sight impossible. On this promontory 
stands the small village of iEnaes, while beyond, 
steep mountains shoot boldly up from the fiord 
with scarped and furrowed sides, but with trees 
springing from every ledge where a little soil 
supplies nourishment for their roots. On the 
same side, and a little above iEnaes, is a very 
lofty and precipitous rock-face dipping sheer down 
into the fiord ; and about a mile farther up a 
most magnificent waterfall, clothing a vast crag 
with a flowing drapery of snowy foam. We 
estimated its height at about 300 feet, and its 
breadth at the widest part at 200. It rushes 
over the cliff from amidst a fringe of foliage in 
three separate streams perpendicularly for the 
first 150 feet, and then dashes into the fiord 
over a long steep slope of jagged rocks. The 
lower fall spreads out to a great breadth, and 
brightens the dark cliff with wreaths and whirls 
of sparkling foam, which find rest at length after 


their vexed career in the green waters of the 
Moranger. The vast water-power here developed 
has been turned to some account by the Nor- 
wegians. The lower fall is divided into two 
portions by a green promontory which juts out 
into the fiord, and on this stands a rude and 
primitive sawmill with stone foundations, but 
built of wood and roofed with shingles. Near 
it is a still ruder and smaller mill — -something 
like those still in use in Shetland — moved by a 
small horizontal wheel placed under the shed in 
which the mill-stones work. Passing iEnaes and 
its magnificent waterfall, we continued our course 
up the Moranger, and soon opened on our right 
the village of Bondhus with its narrow valley 
closed in by steep mountains, between two of 
which lies the glacier of Bondhus, rifted and 
seamed by chasms and crevices, and with the 
blue gleam of its ice catching the eye, and mark- 
ing it out from the adjoining snowfield of the 
Folgefonde. Our pilot, unfortunately, turned out 
a thorough impostor. He had never been up 
the Moranger Fiord, and, instead of anchoring 
at Bondhus, took us up to Fladbo at the head 
of the other branch of the Moranger, and then 
gave orders to let go the anchor close to the 


shore, on which a pretty stiff breeze was blowing 
at the time. The result was that we got no 
bottom with forty fathoms of chain out, and were 


nearly driven on shore owing to his ignorance 
and presumption. A Norwegian obligingly rowed 
out from Fladbo, and told us there was no anchor- 
age, and that we had already passed Bondhus, 


a fact which seemed greatly to astonish our 
pilot, but, after the specimen we had had of his 
knowledge of the Moranger, it was impossible 
to trust him to bring us to at Bondhus, so we 
determined to retrace our course to the Hardanger, 
with which he seemed somewhat better acquainted. 
It was a beautiful calm evening when we re- 
entered the Hardanger, and the view looking 
back towards the mountains around iEnaes was 
very striking. One dark conical mass in particular 
stood boldly forward, with its sharp peak streaked 
with patches of snow, while behind rose a noble 
mountain range sweeping round in a grand curve, 
its summits clothed with heavy masses of snow. 
Here w r e were becalmed for nearly twelve hours, 
and then, getting a favourable breeze, rapidly 
passed the pretty villages of Jondal and Strande- 
barm, and, at Vikor, entered a long reach of the 
Hardanger, which had all the appearance of a 
large inland sea. There is a good deal of sameness 
in this part of the scenery, but still it is very 
picturesque and pleasing. Green swells of land, 
generally w T ell wooded, rising from sweet pastoral 
valleys ; and, beyond these, steep crags and lofty 
summits with specks of snow brightening the 
dulness of their gray peaks. 


A little above Vikor, on the same side of the 
fiord, is a splendid waterfall, several hundred 
feet in height, and with a great body of water. 
It is almost buried in foliage, and its white foam- 
ing stream contrasts finely with the green clothing 
of the mountain-side. We heard the roar of this 
cataract lon^ before we came abreast of it. It 
is the third grand waterfall pouring into the 
Hardanger ; as, besides that near iEnaes, there 
is another above Yondal, not far from the spot 
where a magnificent range of precipices of dark 
purple rock overhang the deep waters of the fiord. 
Waterfalls, indeed, form a principal feature in the 
landscape of the Hardanger ; for, in addition to 
the three principal falls, innumerable minor cascades 
—from the tiny thread of foam lost in mist before 
it reaches the bottom of the rock up to the size of 
the Fall of Foyers — lend their tribute to its waters. 
Many of the houses along the banks of the fiord 
are fantastically painted, generally in the brightest 
colours. We observed one, the front of which was 
painted white, the roof red, and the gable end red 
with a white line around it ; another had the 
upper story red and the under white ; and many 
were entirely red. There is not much level 
ground ; but every available space is taken advan- 


tai>e of for building or farming. The want of 

animal life on the Hardanger is very striking. 

\\ T c saw but few birds, and these were so shy that 

they would scarcely let us get within rifle-shot. 

Near the pretty village of Utne, one of the 

sweetest spots on the Hardanger, the fiord takes 

a sharp and sudden bend to the south, and the 

scenery increases in boldness and beauty. Utne, 

with its clean, brightly - painted wooden houses, 

occupies a beautiful situation at the mouth of a 

green wooded valley on the south-eastern shore 

of the fiord. Opposite to it is the opening of the 

Eide Fiord, and above it that of the Sor Fiord, 

two branches of the great Hardanger, the last of 

which stretches away to the glaciers and snowfields 

of the Foloefonde, one of the mightiest accumula- 
te o 

tions of ice and snow in Norway. We w r ere much 
amused this morning by our aged Palinurus. 
After a capital breakfast on beef, biscuits, and 
coffee, he asked for tobacco ; and, on being offered 
some Latakia, seized a handful that would have 
filled half a dozen pipes, and deliberately crammed 
it into his mouth. Certainly for a man of seventy- 
five he had a wonderful digestion. 

Beyond the opening of the Sor Fiord the 
Hardanger again stretches in a north-eastern 


direction, which it maintains as far as Vik. The 
view up the Sor Fiord is superb ; a narrow reach 
of water trending away for miles between snow- 
capped mountains, those on the southern side 
being crowned with the eternal snows of the 
Folgefonde. Passing the entrance of the Sor Fiord, 
we stretched away for our destination, the village 
of Vik, still ten or twelve miles distant. On 
either side of us were lofty mountains, those on 
the southern shore precipitous and barren, and 
those on the opposite bank sloping up in a suc- 
cession of rocky terraces thickly clothed with 
wood. The weather on the Hardanger is very 
variable : calms and breezes from every point of 
the compass succeeding each other with startling 
suddenness. Towards its termination the fiord 
divides into three branches; the most northerly 
leading to Ulvik, the middle to Ose, and the 
most southern and principal to Vik, one of the 
post stations on the road from Bergen to Christi- 
ania. That part of the Hardanger Fiord which 
extends from Odde at the head of the Sor Fiord 
to Vik is in shape almost a crescent about thirty 
miles in length. From Odde by land across the 
snowfields of the Folgefonde to Bondhus at the 
head of the Moranger Fiord is only twelve miles, 



and yet the distance by water cannot be less 
than sixty miles, which may give some idea of 
the extent to which the Hardanger and its various 
branches and windings indent and diversify the 
surface of the country. 

Shortly before reaching Vik, we obtained a 
splendid view up the dark and narrow gorge of 
the Seimadal, the distance being filled up by 
the snowy coronal of the Hallens Jokelen, up- 
wards of 5000 feet liiorli. 

We cast anchor at Vik on the 19th of July, 
just forty-eight hours after we had entered the 
Bommel Fiord. We were anchored about a 
cable's length from the shore in twenty -five 
fathoms. The great difficulty in the Hardanger 
is to find anchorage, owing to the extreme 
depth of the water, varying from 100 to 200 
fathoms, even quite near the shore. The inn at 
Vik stands close to the water's edge, and (for 
Norway) is clean and comfortable, though those 
travellers who expect carpeted rooms, cushioned 
chairs and sofas, and the other luxuries of civilised 
hotels, would probably consider its accommodation 
very contemptible. A little farther inland are the 
village of Eidfiord, and a quaint old church said 
to have been built long ago by a Norwegian 



lady as an expiation for having murdered her 
husband. The approach to the village leads across 
a narrow plain studded with stunted birch trees, 
then there is a short ascent and another level 
dotted over with the same scanty vegetation. 
These flats, about a mile and a half wide, are 
hemmed in on each side by lofty and precipitous 
mountains, whose summits, however, are rather 
lumpy and rounded in outline. Across the valley 
stretches transversely an enormous mound, three 
or four hundred feet high, which appears to have 
once formed the terminal moraine of a glacier. 
It is now clothed with birch and fir trees, and 
cut through by the deep and rapid torrent which 
rushes from the lake of Seebo into the Hardanger 

In the evening five young Can tabs arrived at 
the inn, having just returned from an excursion 
to the Voring Foss, the finest waterfall in Europe. 
They told us that they had travelled overland 
from Christiania, boating and walking most of 
the way. They complained bitterly of the diffi- 
culty of getting sufficient food, and assured us 
that but for their fishing-rods they must have 
been nearly starved. We invited them on board, 
and set before them a cold round of beef and 


sundry bottles of Bass's ale, and certainly the way 
in which they disposed of both meat and drink 
bore ample testimony to the justice of their 
complaints, and gave an appalling idea of the 
poverty of Norwegian fare. The round never 
recovered that onslaught. Afterwards, we all en- 
joyed a sociable smoke on deck, and parted late 
in the evening ; they to go on early next morning 
to Odde, at the head of the Sor Fiord, and thence 
across the snows of the Folgefonde to the glacier 
of Bondhus, and we to prepare for an equally 
early start to the Voring Foss. 

At half-past five next morning we commenced 
operations by a plunge into the cold green waters 
of the Hardanger from the deck of the cutter, 
while two of our acquaintances of the preceding 
evening were taking a " header " from the end 
of the wooden quay near the hotel, much to the 
astonishment and admiration of an assembled 
knot of Norwegians. 

At half-past six we started for the Voring 
Foss, each of us having a guide and a pony ; 
and, after a pleasant ride of a mile, reached the 
beautiful lake of Sasbo, where we embarked in 
one boat, while our guides and ponies got into 
another and heavier one. We were most fortu- 


n ate in a day ; the sky was bright and almost 
cloudless, and the sun warm without being scorch- 
ing. The huge mass of the moraine cut through 
by the impetuous torrent of the Lundaro Elv 
stretches across the northern extremity of the 
lake ; on either side lofty and very steep moun- 
tains dip sheer down into the clear waters, so 
that all passage except by boat is impracticable. 
Near the village of Ssebo the hills on the west 
side of the lake form a smooth wall of rock, 
where not a single tree can find a resting-place. 

Ssebo is situated at the southern extremity of 
the lake, on a level alluvial plain where good 
crops of rye and potatoes are grown. This plain 
presents its longest side to the water, and 
gradually narrows inland until terminated by 
the precipices that overhang the gloomy pass of 
Hjelmodalen, fit antechamber to the perpetual 
snows of the Hardanger Fjeld : through this gorge 
the Hj elm ode Elv flows down to the lake of 
Ssebo, into which it falls on one side of the 
valley, while on the other runs the Lundaro 
Elv, which forms the Voring Foss. The view 
of the plain and village as we approached them 
from the lake was very striking : everywhere 
darkened by the long shadows of the mountains, 


except where a narrow belt of bright sunshine 
gilded the meadows close to the water. A little 
beyond Sasbo we passed a second moraine similar 
to that at Yik, but on a smaller scale, and several 
of the rocks that we passed in the course of the 
day are what are termed rbches moutonnees, 
bearing evident traces of glacier action. After 

o o 

crossing this moraine, we entered a narrow but 
grand rocky defile, which extends for several 
miles in an easterly direction to the foot of that 
steep and lofty ascent which leads up to the 
level of the Voring Foss. Proceeding up this 
for some miles, we came to a wooden bridge of 
a very picturesque but exceedingly shaky descrip- 
tion, which spans the river, here both deep and 
rapid. It is not above four feet wide, and there 
is not the slightest vestige of a parapet. Here 
we dismounted ; the ponies were driven across 
singly by the guides, and we followed. Two 
and a half hours from Vik brought us to the 
little village of Veita, built close to the torrent ; 
and another half-hour to a smaller hamlet, beyond 
which the path becomes exceedingly bad, being 
covered with large stones and long slippery slopes 
of smooth rock, and in some places so steep that 
regular steps have been cut, up which our Norsk 


ponies scrambled like cats. On either side huge 
blocks of stone detached from the adjacent moun- 
tains hem in the path. Some of these are of 
enormous size, probably 100 feet square. 

On emerging from these rocky masses, we 
found ourselves on a narrow strip of meadow- 
land, at whose upper extremity the river takes 
a sudden bend, and seems to be swallowed up 
in the jaws of a narrow pass formed by perpendi- 
cular walls of rock, shooting wp to a great height 
from the water's edge, so that farther progress by 
its banks becomes impossible. We now began to 
wonder how or where we were to proceed ; for on 
our left were the river and precipices, while, right 
in front, an excessively steep mountain-slope called 
the Maabuberg, at least 1200 feet high, seemed to 
forbid farther advance, at least to mounted travellers. 
But there are no limits to the endurance and ac- 
tivity of Norwegian ponies ; and whoever wishes 
to know what they are capable of performing, and 
how perfectly sure-footed they become, should go 
to Vik and ride from thence to the Voring Foss on 
the back of one. Cats are nothing to them ; and I 
have no doubt that one of them might be safely 
ridden to the top of Ben Nevis, rough, stony, and 
steep as the latter part of that ascent certainly is. 


We soon found that the road to the Foss lay up 
the mountain-face in front of us. A rougher path 
can scarcely be imagined ; it is, however, the only 
very steep ascent between Vik and the Voring 
Foss. One of our party dismounted and walked up, 
beating his mounted companions by twenty minutes. 
The ascent of the Maabuberg occupies nearly an 
hour, but the fatigue is amply repaid by the ex- 
tensive prospect commanded from its summit. 
On gaining the to}3 we entered upon a level 
mossy table-land covered with the common and 
dwarf birch, and with bushes of the crow- and 
cloud -berry, from which we had a fine view of 
the gleaming snowfields of the lofty Jokelen. 
After riding along this plateau for some miles, 
our guides conducted us to some shepherds' huts, 
a little beyond the Voring Foss, and 2150 feet 
above the level of the Hardanger. Here we saw 
our ponies stabled, and afterwards entered the 
principal Saeter, which boasted of two tolerable 
apartments. In one of these were hung up a 
collection of pictures such as we give to children, 
and an absurd pencil-drawing of some distin- 
guished personage all frogs and frock-coat, but 
with most ridiculously diminutive legs and feet. 
We asked for some milk, which was brought to 


us in a large wooden bowl about eighteen inches 
in circumference and half as much in depth. This 
was accompanied by three wooden spoons — one 
for each of us ; and a sheet of fladbrod, as the 
ordinary bread of the country is termed. Fladbrod 
resembles in colour and thickness coarse brown 
packing paper, and possesses about an equal 
amount of nourishment. It is baked of rye meal 
in huge circular cakes, which are first folded 
across, and then a second time folded, and in 
this form it is kept and sold. For the milk and 
fladbrod we paid an ort, or lOd. in our money. 
On leaving the Saeter we found our guides busily 
engaged in supping sour milk curds from a great 
wooden bowl, round which they were sociably 
seated. We left them en^ao;ed in this interest- 
ing occupation, and proceeded to a little distance 
in order to sketch the Saeter. The fine arts soon 
proved a formidable antagonist to the curds, and 
we were speedily surrounded by all the guides, 
and the whole population of the Saeter, who 
watched and criticised our drawings with every 
appearance of the greatest interest. Our sketch- 
ing finished, we lost no time in hastening to the 
Voring Foss, which is about a mile below the 
Saeters, and is easily distinguishable from a con- 


siderable distance by the light column of glittering 
foam that is for ever wreathing upwards from the 
abyss. The river appeared to us about as large 
as the Clyde at Lanark, and, a little above the 
great cataract, there is a lofty and beautiful cascade 
which anywhere else would be considered magnifi- 
cent ; but here it only serves as a foil to the great 
Voring Foss. The point from which you see the 
fall is at least 150 feet above the spot whence 
the river precipitates itself into the boiling pool 
beneath, while the perpendicular crag opposite, 
crested with stunted birch trees, rises as much 
above where you stand. From its summit rushes 
a slender thread of foam to add its tiny tribute 
to the fathomless abyss 1200 feet below, from 
which a thin smoke of spray is perpetually floating 
up and overhanging the great cataract with a 
dewy curtain, while the dripping rocks opposite 
the falling waters reflect the dazzling and varied 
hues of a beautiful rainbow. By a little scrambling 
a spot may be reached from which the Voring Foss 
is visible in all its unrivalled splendour. Where 
the waters first rebound from the precipice, they 
are whirled out in wreaths of spray, their edges 
just tinged with the most delicate and tender 
colours, fining away as they extend till they melt 


into air, and ceaselessly revolving in circles of 
snowy foam till lost in the profound gulf 900 feet 
below. The purity, the matchless beauty, of these 
wheels as of white fire no words can describe, nor 
sketch adequately portray. The Voring Foss is 
the very poetry and perfection of waterfalls, and, 
alone, amply repays the fatigue and expense of a 
voyage to Norway. 

In the afternoon we rode back across the table- 
land to the summit of the Maabuberg, and, in the 
descent of the steep and rough zigzags, our ponies 
displayed their sure-footedness even more con- 
spicuously than during the previous ascent. We 
reached Vik at six o'clock, having been away for 
upwards of eleven hours. Even with the aid of 
ponies and boats no one should attempt the 
excursion to Voriiig Foss who is not prepared for 
at least two hours' hard walking. We found the 
charges at Vik extravagant, having to pay for our 
three guides and ponies 32s. Provisions were also 
dear: for eggs we paid 9d. a dozen, butter lOd. 
a pound, and jladbrdd 1^-d. a cake, which, reckon- 
ing by weight, is considerably more than the price 
of the best wheaten bread in Great Britain. 

Next day the weather was very bad : the 
mountains around were either entirely veiled in 


clouds, or partially obscured by floating wreaths of 
gray mist, while the rain poured in torrents. 
In the evening, however, there was a startling 
change : the rain ceased, but it blew half a gale 
of wind right on shore, and, to our consternation, 
we found that our anchor was not holding, and 
that we were rapidly drifting on the rocky beach. 
We turned all hands up, got sail on the yacht, and 
were obliged to beat her out into the fiord through 
the darkness and in the teeth of the gale. We 
had got so close in-shore that we had scarcely 
room to stay the vessel, and had anything gone 
wrong when the helm was put down, nothing 
could have saved us from driving on the beach. 
After o^ainin^ a ox>od offing, we ao;ain came to 
anchor off Vik, but considerably farther from the 
shore, and with plenty of chain out, and rode 
safely till the morning. We found that the cause 
of our former mishap had been the chain cable 
getting foul of the anchor - stock. "All's well 
that ends well," but we certainly made a narrow 
escape from leaving our smart little cutter to 
serve as a perpetual model for the boat-builders 
of Vik. 

Early next morning we bade adieu to Vik, and 
sailed for Bergen : the wind was, however, un- 


favourable, and we had a tedious voyage down the 
Hardanger. On leaving it, we entered a perfect 
labyrinth of rocky islands, through which we were 
to thread our way to Bergen. Most of these are 
deeply indented by bays and creeks, and, in 
general, very barren, though, here and there, a few 
trees and bushes of purple heather break the gray 
monotony of their surface. The navigation of the 


numerous and winding channels that surround 
them is intricate and perplexing, and the white- 
painted wooden lighthouses perched upon com- 
manding heights are here absolutely indispensable. 
Near Bogholm Sound we had a magnificent sunset ; 
a cloudless sky of gold and crimson, against which 
the fine mountains around Bergen seemed of the 
deepest purple. The graceful peak of the Lyder- 
horn and the lofty range of the Lovstakken were 
especially conspicuous. 

The voyage from Vik to Bergen occupied two 


days, and early on the morning of the third we 
came to anchor at the entrance of the merchant 
harbour not far from the quay and custom-house, 
in the midst of a crowd of shipping, French, 
German, English, and Norsk, the most curious 
being the "Jagts" from the northern fisheries, 
large vessels with a single mast, a huge square-sail, 
and crews of a dozen men each. They are low amid- 
ships, curve upwards at the bow and stern, and 
the prow rises eight or ten feet above the deck. 
Bergen is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque 
towns in Europe. There is such variety of colour 
and outline, such narrow streets, such quaint old 
wooden houses with balconies and projecting roofs, 
sometimes built upon quays rising sheer from deep 
water, sometimes overhanging short narrow canals 
which run up from the harbour, and admit of 
vessels lying between the houses. Then there are 
the tall old tower of Haco and the ancient palace 
of the kings of Norway, recalling the days when 
Bergen was a capital, — the dark gray castle of 
Fredericksburg on the opposite height, — the long 
and lofty range of wooden warehouses which once 
received rich merchandise from all parts of the 
world when Bergen was one of the five chief ports 
of the Hanseatic League, — the varied and ever- 


changing character of the shipping in the harbour, 

— the fine curve and graceful outline of the moun- 

tains that half encircle the city, and the bold 
sweep of the deep and sheltered waters that bring 
the commerce of distant lands to her threshold — 
all combining to form a picture equally delightful 
from its natural beauty and romantic associations 
with the past. 

The first point that we visited after landing was 
the fortress of Fredericksburg which crowns a 
height rising steeply above the custom-house. 
From this commanding position we obtained an 
excellent idea of the city and neighbourhood. 
Bergen is built partly upon a peninsula facing the 
north, and partly along the shores of two deep 
bays on the east and west of this peninsula. The 
bay on the east is the harbour for merchant ships, 
and that on the west for vessels requiring repairs ; 
the principal shipbuilding yards are also on the 
west bay. To the south, an undulating well- 
wooded country extends to the base of the moun- 
tains, upon whose slopes may be seen the bright- 
looking villas of the Bergen merchants. The 
warehouses of the Hanse merchants and the castle 
of Haco extend along the east side of the merchant 
harbour. Pictorially speaking, there is too much 


of pure unbroken white in the buildings of Bergen ; 
but their picturesque shapes, steep roofs, and 
pointed gables in some degree compensate for this 
defect. The houses are all built of wood, painted, 
and, externally at least, kept scrupulously clean. 
The streets are narrow and ill paved, and beside 
many of the houses stands a water-barrel as a 
resource against fire, while at intervals of 100 
yards are sentry-boxes for the watchmen. The 
old and rude system of water-barrels seems likely 
to be soon superseded by fire-plugs ; for in some 
of the streets we saw notices of the position of 
those admirable safeguards for a wooden town. 
The last fire destroyed 180 houses, and the spot 
where it raged may still be distinguished by 
freshness of the tiles on the roofs of the houses 
that have replaced those which were then destroyed. 
For the future, all houses built in Bergen must be 
constructed of brick or stone ; and some of those 
which we saw in process of erection to the south 
of the merchant harbour were in conformity with 
this new regulation. Their construction is very 
curious : the inner shell is of wood, above that is 
a rude sheathing of birch bark, and over all a 
facing of brick sometimes coated with Eoman 


With the exception of cigars, fish, and Nor- 
wegian skiffs, everything is exceedingly dear, and 
Mr. Greig, the English consul, informed us that, 
within his remembrance, prices had increased 
threefold. For a coarse Norsk knife with carved 
wooden handle, fifteen shillings were demanded, 
and for a small card -case, also in carved wood, 
such as might have been purchased in Switzerland 
for a couple of francs, we were charged nine 
shillings. But, besides being, the dearest, Bergen 
is also the rainiest of Norwegian towns. We have 
been in a glen in the Island of Skye, yclept Glen 
Sligachan (a perfect Shibboleth to English lips), in 
which we were told that the oldest inhabitant 
could not remember a day without a shower, and 
truly, judging from our five days' experience, we 
can believe the same of Bergen. An umbrella 
and a waterproof cloak are essentials ; and who- 
ever wishes to become what Mr. Mantalini express- 
ively terms " a dem'd moist unpleasant body " 
had better go to Bergen and spend a week without 

The fish-market, situated at the head of the 
merchant harbour, is one of the most interestino- 
sights of this ancient city ; and those who wish 
to see it to advantage ought to go about seven in 



the morning when the fishing-boats come throng- 
ing in with their scaly freight. The fish are 
brought to market alive by a very ingenious 
contrivance. Each fishing-boat tows along by a 
cord attached to it a small, flat-bottomed, boat- 
shaped receptacle, in which the fish are placed ; 
and the sides of this are pierced with holes, 
through which the water flows freely, so that it is 
almost entirely submerged as it is towed astern 
with its livino* burden. In i^oino; to the fisli- 
market, we passed in front of the lofty white ware- 
houses once the property of the merchants of the 
Hanseatic League. A perfect fleet of fishing-boats, 
ranged in two tiers, lay alongside the quay in 
front of them ; and, close to its edge, stands a row 
of tall, upright, mast-like posts painted green, 
with long black poles slung across them, one end 
of which admits of being lowered into vessels 
lying alongside the wharf, when, by hauling on the 
other end, any article attached may be easily 
raised and deposited on the quay. It was curious 
to see these rude and ancient substitutes for the 
crane and windlass still standing in the middle of 
the nineteenth century. 

On reaching the fish-market we found our- 
selves in the midst of a perfect babel of tongues, 


bargaining, chaffering, and abusing, with a volu- 
bility and energy worthy of Billingsgate. The 

market and its neighbourhood offer great attrac- 
ts o 

tions to the artist. Several of the adjacent 
buildings are curious and characteristic, many 
fine studies of costume present themselves, and 
some of the picturesque Loffoden galleys are 
generally moored close by. These vessels some- 
times bring to Bergen a cargo of wood piled up 
till it is almost half-mast high, and are said 
occasionally to take back with them a cargo of 
coffins, using them as packing-cases during their 
homeward voyage. From the fish-market we 
continued our walk until we reached the shores 
of an inland lake connected with the harbour by 
a narrow canal, and surrounded by pleasant walks 
and wooded slopes, with the villas of the Bergen 
merchants peeping out from among the foliage. 
It is a beautiful spot, and presents a charming 
combination of wood and water ; yet that large 
yellow building which arrests the eye by its size 
and beauty of situation calls up saddening associa- 
tions, for it is the Hospital for Lepers, leprosy 
being a disease, unfortunately, still prevalent in 

On our way back we visited several shops, in 


particular that of Mr. F. Berger, a bookseller, 
whose shop is situated not far from the cathedral. 
He is an accomplished linguist, speaking English 
and German with fluency. We found him very 
civil and attentive, and were introduced by him to 
the Bergen Athenaeum, where we saw Punch, the 
Examiner, and the Illustrated News. Strangers 
introduced by a member enter their names in a 
book kept for that purpose, and are then entitled 
to the use of the rooms for a fortnight free of 
expense. Afterwards we went to the Bergen 
Museum, which contains a highly interesting 
collection of articles connected with the natural 
history, antiquities, and fine arts of Norway. We 
saw a splendid specimen of that noblest of the 
falcon tribe, the gerfalcon of Norway, and of the 
capercailzie, male and female, a fine lynx, the 
skeletons of several large bears, and a great variety 
of fishes, reptiles, and minerals. There is also a 
curious collection of ancient Norsk swords, axes, 
and armour, and specimens of wood and stone 
covered with runic characters. Several pairs of 
the snow - shoes or skates in common use were 
pointed out to us. These are narrow flat pieces 
of wood, about eight feet in length, tapering at 
each end, with a strap of leather to attach them 


to the feet, and the face next the ground grooved. 
Those used by the Laplanders are of unequal 
length, and the shorter of the two is covered with 
reindeer- skin, in order to enable them to climb 
steep acclivities. We were shown a beautifully- 
carved wooden bedstead of the end of the sixteenth 
or beginning of the seventeenth century, said to 
have belonged to a daughter of a king of Scotland. 
Whether this legend be true or no, it is a most 
elaborate and delicate piece of carving. The 
Museum contains many pictures, most of them 
very bad, though often having great names 
attached. Among them we observed a portrait 
of Jacob Jacobson Drachenberg, the Old Parr of 
Norway, who lived 150 years; a good landscape 
by Professor Dahl of Dresden ; a smaller Italian 
scene by the same artist, and a very noble outline 
drawing of a Pieta, worthy of the best days of 
Italian art. But the two most interesting pictures 
are by Jansen, a Norwegian priest, a pupil of the 
school of Dusseldorf ; the one representing the fair 
Ingeborge, the heroine of Frithiofs Saga, with a 
falcon on her wrist, looking out upon the sea, 
awaiting the return of her hero lover. The draw- 
ing is good, the face beautiful, and, with the 
exception of a little hardness, the colouring agree- 


able. The other picture represents one of the 
Norwegian Vikings carrying off a Greek captive. 
The warm voluptuous character of southern beauty 
is well expressed, and contrasts strongly with the 
bright complexion and fair hair and beard of the 
northern warrior. The drawing of the left arm of 
the young Greek is, however, bad and feeble. We 
were informed that a new building is shortly to be 
erected for the better accommodation and arrange- 
ment of the curiosities of the Museum. 

On a subsequent day we went to see the first 
exhibition of the Prize Pictures (chiefly by native 
artists) of the Bergen Art Union. This association 
was then quite in its infancy, having subsisted for 
a single year only ; the annual subscription is two 
dollars, and the largest sum as yet given for a 
picture has been 100 dollars. The prizes are 
decided, as with us, by ballot, and the names of 
the prize-holders are affixed to the pictures they 
have won. Several of the landscapes by native 
artists showed great technical proficiency, and an 
attentive and loving study of nature ; and w T e have 
no doubt that manv of them would bring in this 
country twice the sum given for them in Norway. 
The exhibition did not contain a single specimen 
of historical painting, but consisted entirely of 


landscapes and tableaux de genre. Among the 
native artists we particularly noticed the land- 
scapes of Mortens Miiller and Nils Miiller, and of 
Ecker, a Norwegian long resident in the island of 
Madeira. There was also a very promising picture, 
"Children at play," by Bergslien, a Norsk peasant 
youth, whose genius for painting induced some 
benevolent individuals to send him to study at 
Dusseldorf, which appears to be the favourite 
school with Norwegian artists. 

On Sunday we attended afternoon service in the 
Cathedral, which has no external beauty to boast 
of, and, internally, is probably the ugliest church 
in Europe. It is a large building, but there were 
not above thirty persons present during the service, 
which lasted for about an hour. The officiating 
clergyman was a fine -looking middle-aged man, 
and, like the Lutheran clergy in general, wore a 
black gown and Geneva ruff. He possessed a, 
splendid voice, and read his sermon with great 
solemnity and effect. The interior of the Cathedral 
is as white as whitewash and paint can make it. 
There is a long and lofty nave with a wooden roof 
totally devoid of mouldings or ornaments of any 
kind. This is divided from a low aisle by three 
huge, ugly, octagonal pillars, with the shafts white- 


washed and the capitals painted black. The aisle is 

partially filled up by several tiers of pews, exactly 

like the boxes in an opera-house, and the central 

pew opposite the pulpit has red curtains attached 

to it. The pulpit is a frightful wooden structure 

some thirty feet high, which rises in successive 

stories and rests against the centre of the wall of 

the nave, while below, it is supported upon the 

head of a single unfortunate wooden angel, who 

seems quite inadequate to sustain such a burden. 

Above the altar rises a huge wooden canopy, in 

one compartment of which is a painting of the 

Lord's Supper, surmounted by a circular pediment, 

above which is a crucifixion, the whole towering 

up almost to the roof in elaborate and unmitigated 

ugliness. In front of the altar, and within the 

altar railings, are two large brass lamps suspended 

from the ceiling by black rods, ornamented with 

brass bells at regular intervals ; and between these 

lamps hangs a colossal figure with gilt wings and 

scanty drapery, resembling a figurante let down 

from the flies of an opera-house rather than a 

respectable and orthodox angel which we supposed 

it to represent. This figure may be pulled up and 

lowered down by a ring attached to it, an operation 

which we witnessed during the baptismal service, 


the water being contained in a basin placed upon a 
wreath held by the outstretched hand of the sus- 
pended angel. Facing the altar, at the opposite 
extremity of the nave, is a large and powerful 
organ with a fine full tone. It was very well 
played. Its exterior, however, is in perfect keeping 
with the general hideousness which characterises 
the interior of this extraordinary building. There 
are three parish churches in Bergen — the Cathedral, 
the Kors Kirke, and the New Church. After 
leaving the Cathedral we visited the last of these, 
arriving just at the termination of the service. 
The congregation was far more numerous than in 
the Cathedral, the passages were strewed with 
twigs of juniper, and paint and whitewash seemed 
in as great favour as in the Metropolitan church. 

On our way back, we spent some time in 
searching out an apothecary, in order to get some 
medicine for one of our party who had been taken 
ill at Bergen. We found that there were two 
compounders of drugs, the one known by the sign 
of a swan, and the other by that of a lion, 
suspended over their doors. We patronised the 
latter ; and, in spite of his formidable designation 
of " Love Aphothek," found him civil and attentive, 
and able to speak a little English. Besides the two 


apothecaries, the health of the population is watched 
over by sixteen doctors ; and a diploma from the 
University of Christiania is absolutely necessary 
before any one is allowed to practise. Even a 
Swedish diploma will not do. None but Norwegians, 
or at least those holding a Norwegian degree, are per- 
mitted to kill or cure their fellow-citizens in Bergen. 
Next day the rainy monotony of the weather 
was diversified by a violent thunderstorm, and 
we were confined to our cabin finishing sketches, 
writing up journals, and making arrangements for 
our departure. The weather was somewhat better 
next morning, and at eleven o'clock we started 
on our homeward voyage to Lerwick by the mouth 
of the Ivors Fiord, which opens into the German 
Ocean about eighteen miles from Bergen. The sky 
was comparatively clear, and the views of the old 
Norwegian capital as we sailed away were varied 
and beautiful. From a point about a mile to the 
north of King Haco's castle the appearance of the 
city is very picturesque. The quaint irregular 
buildings of the old fortress rising from the 
sheltered waters of the merchant harbour form a 
noble foreground, while the twin spires of the 
German Church and those of the Cathedral and 
Ivors Kirke group finely around them. Farther 


back is the tall white range of the Hanseatic 
warehouses ; and, along each side and at the head 
of the merchant harbour, a perfect forest of masts ; 
while facing the old castle on the other side of the 
bay are the white walls and spire of the New 
Church, the slopes behind it covered by groups of 
picturesque and brightly -painted wooden houses, 
above which frowns the ancient fortress of 
Fredericksburg. But, perhaps, the most complete 
of all the sea views of Bergen is that obtained from a 
point a short distance beyond the extremity of the 
long peninsula which divides the two bays around 
which the town extends. This view shows more of 
the city than any other, and its various buildings 
form most picturesque and charming combinations. 
Not far from Bergen, and looking almost like a 
long suburb, is the pretty village of Nyhavn, built 
close to the sea along the foot of a range of steep 
hills. It is a favourite summer resort of the 

On our way to the mouth of the Kors Fiord, and 
while sailing through its narrow and winding 
reaches, we passed many a charming villa, many a 
sequestered parsonage house and church peeping 
out from thick foliage, and many a sheltered bay 
and fishing village built along the beach. Among. 


the prettiest of these villages are Strudhavn, 
Stargen, Bradholm and Klokervik ; but, although 
every spot of fertile ground is taken advantage of, 
here, as on the banks of the Hardanger, the 
general characteristic of the shores of the fiord is 
extreme barrenness. At five o'clock we reached 
the beacon on Marsten Island off the mouth of the 
Ivors Fiord, where we parted with our venerable 
pilot. They apparently provide for their old men 
in Norway by teaching them to say " 'Bout ship ! " 
and then making pilots of them. This old man 
seemed still more aged than our invaluable 
Palinurus on the Moranger Fiord. He had lost 
most of his teeth, and his hair and whiskers were 
quite white. Pilotage for our small vessel during 
our short visit to Norway cost us considerably 
more than £1 per day ; and we had a learned 
discussion in the cabin one forenoon whether the 
Norsk word lootz (pilot) might not be derived 
from the Hindoo loot, meaning booty or plunder : 
a question which we leave to the decision of more 
accomplished philologists. 

After a stormy voyage of fifty-one hours against 
a head wind and a heavy sea, we arrived safely at 
Lerwick, from which we had taken our departure 
just a fortnight before. Of this period nearly four 



days were occupied in the voyage out and home, 
and ten days were spent in Norway, which serves 
to show how easily, and in how short a time, some 
of the finest scenery in Europe may be reached and 
enjoyed by those who do not suffer from sea- 
sickness, or object to the confinement and limited 
accommodation of a small vessel. 





The barren and distant Shetland Islands, in spite 
of the rapid tides and stormy seas which surround 
them, and of the total absence of all the softer 
features of scenery, present many attractions to 
the adventurous yachtsman. They abound in safe 
harbours, and their cliffs and headlands are un- 
equalled among the British Isles. They also 
contain numerous remains of ancient forts or 
Burohs, whose age and uses are now matter for 
conjecture, and about whose builders as little is 
certainly known as about those of the pyramids of 
Egypt, or the round towers of Ireland. Rude 


Scandinavian instruments of husbandry, and 
picturesque inefficient old mills, are still in 
common use, and many Norse expressions yet 
linger in the ordinary speech of the islanders. 
The men, by their universal preference of a sea- 
faring life, and contempt for agriculture, show 
themselves the true descendants of those old 
A r ikings whose war galleys were, for three cen- 
turies, the terror of every coast in Europe ; while 
the women not only knit those stockings, shawls, 
and veils, whose softness and warmth have become 
proverbial, but also cut and carry turf, and perform 
all the agricultural operations reserved in most 
other countries for the ruder and stronger sex. 
Inns are scarce, but the hospitality universally 
practised by the clergy, gentry, and farmers 
amply supplies their place ; and the capital trout- 
fishing in the numerous fresh-water lochs, and at 
the head of the voes or narrow inlets of the sea, 
offers a strong temptation to the enterprising 

On our return from a voyage to Norway, we 
spent a fortnight among these rugged and treeless 
islands, which we now propose describing, first 
asking the reader to glance for a moment at their 
early history, which possesses many elements of 


romantic interest. In the ninth century a Nor- 
wegian prince, Harald Harfagr, or the fair-haired, 
became enamoured of the beautiful Princess Gida, 
the loveliest maiden in Europe. He proposed to 
marry her, but the proud beauty rejected his suit. 
" You are not yet sufficiently renowned ; reduce 
all Norway under your sway, and then I may 
listen to your love," was Gida's reply to her fair- 
haired adorer. Harald accepted the task, and 
vowed to suffer his golden locks to grow until he 
had conquered the kingdom and won the bride. 
He did both ; but many of the petty princes 
of Norway whom he had driven from their 
country took refuge with their warlike followers 
in the Orkney and Shetland Islands, and thence 
made repeated and desolating descents upon the 
coasts of Norway. Summer after summer these 
were renewed, until at length Harald was roused 
to vengeance, assembled a powerful armament, 
sailed to Orkney and Shetland, and reduced both 
groups of islands under his sway. He then con- 
ferred them as an earldom upon Ronald, Count of 
Merca, who resigned the donation in favour of his 
brother Sigurd, first Jarl or Earl of Orkney. For 
several hundred years the Orkney and Shetland 
Islands remained under the dominion of the 


Norwegian crown; but in the thirteenth century they 
were transferred from the Government of Norway 
to that of Scotland, in security of 58,000 florins, 
part of the dowry of Margaret, daughter of the 
King of Norway, on her marriage to James the 
Third. In the previous century, Henry Sinclair, a 
Scotchman, who had by marriage acquired the best 
right to the Earldom of Orkney, received an investi- 
ture of it from the King of Denmark, then also 
monarch of Norway, and he and his descendants 
held the earldom for nearly one hundred years. 
But after the islands had been pledged to the 
Scottish crown, Lord Sinclair gave up his right in 
them to James the Third, in exchange for the 
castle and lands of Ravenscraig in Scotland, upon 
which the king by a formal statute annexed them 
to the Crown. Soon after this annexation, the 
Norsk language began to fall into desuetude ; but 
in their manners, domestic habits, language, and 
appearance, the Shetlanders still bear traces of 
their Scandinavian descent. The single - stilted 
plough, and the rude corn-mills, now as of old in 
use, and the tusker, quern, and cassie, are genuine 
Scandinavian implements of husbandry, and nearly 
two hundred words of Norsk origin are still 
employed by the inhabitants. But though the 


Northmen have stamped the impress of their race 
indelibly on the character and habits of the 
Shetlanders, traces of earlier and more civilised 
conquerors are still to be found in many of the 
islands. Coins of Vespasian, Galba, iElius Caesar, 
and Trajan have been dug up in various places. 
In the year 84 of our era, Agricola visited the 
Orkneys during his circumnavigation of Great 
Britain ; and in the fourth century Theodosius also 
did so, and most probably extended his voyage to 
Shetland. As to the original inhabitants, they 
appear to have been a Pictish tribe of Celtic origin 
about whom little is known ; but through the 
darkness and uncertainty which shroud these 
remote ages, we may discern three important 
epochs in the early history of these islands. First, 
Agricola's visit when they were inhabited by a 
Celtic race ; second, their conquest a.d. 368 by 
Theodosius, at which period they were the strong- 
holds of Saxon pirates who made wasting descents 
upon the British coasts ; and third, the sixth 
century, when they fell into the hands of the 
Scandinavians, the ancestors of the present in- 

But to pass from the days of war-galleys and 
vikings, when piracy was considered a gentlemanly 


and respectable occupation, to our present state of 
morality and civilisation, when we start on a 
cruise to cure dyspepsia or dispel ennui — it was a 
beautiful autumn morning when we came in sight 
of the majestic cliffs of Sumburgh and Fitful Head 
immortalised by Sir Walter Scott in the Pirate. 
Soon after, we passed through the Roost of Sum- 
burgh, where we were terribly tossed about until 
we got beyond its stormy influence. Roost or 
Roust, a word of frequent occurrence among the 
Orkney and Shetland Islands, is a term of Scandi- 
navian origin, meaning a strong tumultuous current 
caused by the meeting of rapid tides. Sumburgh 
Roost, even in calm weather, has the appearance of 
a turbulent tide stream two or three miles wide 
extending a short distance from the headland 
which gives it its name, and then gradually 
dwindling to a long dark line stretching away 
towards Fair Isle. At the commencement of the 
flood in the Roost, the tide flows to the eastward 
until it passes the head ; it there meets a southern 
tide, which causes a divergence, first to the south- 
east, and then to the south. At high water there 
is a short cessation, called the " still," after which 
the ebb begins, setting first north-west and then 
north, until the recommencement of the flood. A 


sloop has been becalmed for five days between 
Sumburgh Head and Fitful Head, which are only 
three miles distant from each other, without being 
able to pass either, in consequence of one current 
impelling her into the eastern, and an opposing 
one into the western sea. 

Viewed from the sea, Fitful Head presents a 
somewhat rounded and bluff outline, terminating 
in an almost perpendicular cliff, from which there 
is a gradual slope inland to the low ground that 
surrounds Quendal Bay. Beyond this, the land 
again rises, till it culminates in Sumburgh Head, 
which presents to the sea a sheer wall of rock, on 
the highest point of which gleam the white walls 
and tower of a lighthouse, to warn the mariner 
against the dangers of the stormy roost. Below 
the precipice are the Links of Sumburgh, famous in 
Shetland history as the scene of a desperate battle 
fought many centuries ago between the Shetlanders 
and the men of Lewis. The feud between them 
had been of long standing, and many a combat 
and wasting foray had embittered their mutual 
animosity, which is said to have originated in the 
following circumstance. In the middle of the 
thirteenth century, when King Haco of Norway, to 
whom Shetland then belonged, made his famous 


expedition against Scotland, which terminated in 
his defeat at the battle of Largs, he detached a 
body of troops to hold the island of Lewis in 
check. These troops impoverished the islanders by 
grinding exactions, and exasperated them by 


repeated acts of atrocity, until at length a plot was 
formed for cutting off the hated invaders. The 
lord of the island ordered the croistarich 1 to be 
constructed, the ritual fire to be kindled, and a 
goat to be slain. The extremities of a wooden 
cross were then lighted, and the flames quenched 
in the blood of the slain animal. This emblem of 

1 This word is expressive of a popular signal, being derived from crois, 
a cross, and tara, a multitude. 


fire and sword was then despatched by a swift 
messenger throughout the island with the terrible 
mandate, " Let every man slay his guest." The 
messenger sped to the nearest hamlet, and there 
presented the token which bound him who received 
it, on pain of being pronounced infamous, to obey 
his chieftain's command to slay his guest, and 
afterwards, in his turn, speed onward as bearer of 
the bloody token to the next hamlet, where a 
similar tragedy was enacted, and thus all Haco's 
warriors fell beneath the steel of the islanders. 
But even this bloody vengeance did not satiate the 
hatred of the Lewismen, who transmitted their 
hostility to Shetland from generation to generation, 
and even subsequently to the union of the islands 
with the Scottish Crown, used to make desolating 
descents upon their shores. Their last battle with 
the Shetlanders is said to have been fought on the 
Links of Sumburgh, where the islanders, drawn up 
in battle array under the leadership of one of the 
Sinclairs of Brow, awaited the assault of their 
invaders. The combat that took place was of the 
most desperate character, and attended with great 
slaughter on both sides ; but at length victory 
declared for the Shetlanders, and not a single Lewis- 
man returned to tell the fate of his companions. 


The vanquished were buried in heaps where they 
fell, and mounds of sand piled above their graves. 
These were long afterwards swept away during a 
violent storm, which laid bare quantities of human 
bones thrown indiscriminately together. 

After passing Sumburgh Head, we entered the 
Sound of Mousa, as the arm of the sea which 
separates the island of that name from the Main- 
land is called. The most interesting relic of 
antiquity in the whole Shetland group is the 
curious old tower termed the Burgh of Mousa. It 
occupies a site close to the sea, is circular in shape, 
and measures about fifty feet in diameter at the 
base, by forty-two feet in height, swelling out from 
the foundation, and then getting smaller towards the 
top. The stones of which it is built are of medium 
size, carefully laid together, but without any cement. 
The doorway is low, and leads to a narrow passage 
which can only be explored by creeping on the 
hands and knees. This traversed admits to an 
open area inclosed by the walls of the building, 
which are of the great thickness of fifteen feet. 
The diameter of the open space is twenty-one feet. 
The walls of this singular structure are hollow, and 
pierced by several rows of small chambers, to which 
access is afforded by means of a winding stone 


staircase three feet in width. In fact, the shell of 
the building consists of two concentric walls, one 
about five feet, and the other about four and a 
half in thickness, while a space of nearly similar 
extent is occupied by a number of small low 
chambers. The roofs of the lowest range of 
apartments form the floors of those above ; and, in 
this way, no less than seven tiers of chambers wind 
round the building. The Burgh is supposed by 
some to have been intended as a place of refuge 
from the attacks of the pirates by whom these 
islands were once devastated, and these small dark 
chambers, protected by thick strong walls, are 
believed to have been constructed as places of 
shelter for the women and children, and also as 
repositories for grain and other valuables. This, 
however, is mere conjecture; for the origin, inten- 
tion, and history of the Burgh of Mousa are alike a 
mystery which the researches of the subtlest anti- 
quarians have hitherto failed to penetrate. 

Strangely enough, the Nuraghe of Sardinia 
present in their external aspect a striking re- 
semblance to the Burgh of Mousa. These Nuraghe 
are round towers generally built on the summit of 
hillocks or artificial mounds commanding an 
extensive view over the surrounding country. In 


form they are truncated cones varying from 30 to 
60 feet in height, and from 100 to 300 feet in 
circumference at the base, and no fewer than 3000 
of them, in a more or less ruinous state, are said to 
be still existing in the island of Sardinia. Their 
walls are composed of rough masses of stone, 
built in regular horizontal layers, and gradually 
diminishing in size to the summit. In most 
instances they show no marks of the chisel, but in 
some cases the stones appear to have been rudely 
worked by the hammer, though not exactly squared. 
The interior of these Nuraghe, however, is very 
different from that of the Burgh of Mousa. It is 
thus described by a recent traveller. 1 "The 
interior is almost invariably divided into two 
domed chambers one above the other ; the lowest 
averaging from 15 to 20 feet in diameter, and from 
20 to 25 in height. Access to the upper chamber 
is gained by a spiral ramp or rude steps between 
the internal and external walls. These are con- 
tinued to the summit of the tower, which is 
generally supposed to have formed a platform, but 
scarcely any of the Nuraghe now present a perfect 
apex. On the ground-floor there are generally 
found from two to four cells worked in the solid 

1 Forrester, Rambles in Corsica and Sardinia. 


masonry of the base of the cone." Afterwards, the 
entrance to one of these Nuraghe is described. 
" The entrance was so low that we were obliged to 
stoop almost to onr knees in passing through it. 
A lintel, consisting of a single stone some two tons 
weight, was supported by the protruding jambs. 
No light being admitted to the chamber but by a 
low passage through the double walls, it was gloomy 
enough." It will thus be evident that though the 
position, external appearance, double walls, low 
narrow entrance, and cells excavated in the solid 
masonry of the base of these Nuraghe bear a 
striking analogy to the Shetland Burghs, yet 
the arrangement of their interior into two great 
domed chambers presents a marked contrast to the 
seven tiers or nests of apartments that wind 
between the concentric walls of the Burgh of 
Mousa. The origin, history, and purposes of these 
Nuraghe have excited quite as much interest 
among Sardinian antiquaries as those of the Burghs 
have done among ourselves ; and La Marmora and 
Father Bresciani, the most recent and best 
authorities, agree in supposing them to have been 
intended to serve as religious edifices or tombs for 
the dead, and in imputing to them an eastern 
origin, probably Canaanitish or Phoenician. 


On emerging from the Sound of Mousa, we came 
in sight of two tall and precipitous cliffs, called the 
Bard of Bressay and Noss Head. The former is 
pierced by a singular cavern, through which a boat 
may be rowed from sea to sea. We sailed past yet 


another headland, called the Ord of Bressay, and 
then — leaving it behind us and rounding a low 
point — entered the landlocked Sound of Bressay, 
the first port we made in the Shetland Islands. This 
Sound, separating the island of Bressay from that 
of the Mainland, forms one of the finest harbours 
in Great Britain, and is a favourite rendezvous of 
vessels bound for the whale-fishery in the northern 


seas. On the western sides of the harbour lies the 
little town of Lerwick, the capital of Shetland. 
It contains about 3000 inhabitants, and, viewed 
from the Sound, its appearance is both picturesque 
and peculiar, the gables of most of the houses 
facing the water, while numberless piers and jetties 
project into the harbour, whose sheltered waters 
stretch north and south for nearly four miles with 
an average breadth of about a mile. The town is 
built along a peninsula, whose northern extremity 
is crowned by a fort commanding a fine view of the 
harbour and of the opposite island of Bressay, green 
with rich pasture fields, and famous throughout 
Shetland for its milk and butter. This fort was 
erected in 1665, at a cost of £28,000, and, during 
the Dutch war of that period, was garrisoned by 
Colonel William Sinclair and 300 men for three 
years. At the commencement of the eighteenth 
century it was attacked and burnt by a Dutch 
frigate, but was repaired in 1781 and named Fort 
Charlotte; at present a sergeant and a few artillery- 
men are its only garrison. There is a good deal of 
bustle and gaiety in Lerwick during two periods of 
the year : first in spring, when a great number of 
whaling vessels come into the harbour to get 
manned ; and afterwards, in August and September, 


when French and Dutch men-of-war often come in 
to look after their boats engaged in the fisheries 
along these coasts. Several Dutch fishing smacks 
were anchored close to where we lay ; they are 
clumsy but picturesque-looking craft, carrying a 
tall mast and heavy square-sail, while a smaller 
mast, on which a shoulder-of-mutton sail is spread, 
is stepped close to the stern of the vessel. The 
skippers of these boats were strange -looking animals, 
fat and unctuous, dressed in thick woollen jerseys 
and most voluminous breeches. It was amusing to 
watch them scrambling over the lofty sides of their 
vessels from the low shore boats in which they had 
been pulled off from the town. These Dutch 
fishing smacks carry no boats of their own, and keep 
the sea in all weathers. 

A dangerous rock lies in the northern entrance 
to Bressay Sound. It is known as the Unicorn, a 
name which it acquired from the following 
catastrophe. When the profligate Earl of Bothwell 
became an outlaw and a pirate, he captured several 
of the vessels belonging to these islands ; and, in 
order to protect them against his attacks, the 
Scottish Government despatched two ships of war 
in pursuit of him. One of these vessels, commanded 
by Kirkaldy of Grange, and named the Unicorn, 


got close to the ship of the pirate earl near Bressay 
Sound. Kirkaldy's steersman was ignorant of the 
coast, but his gallant commander crowded all sail 
in pursuit, and the Unicorn was rapidly gaining on 
her foe, when the skilful pilot who held the helm 
of Both well's vessel steered her so as just to graze 
the hidden danger. Kirkaldy followed close in her 
wake ; but his ship, less adroitly handled, struck 
upon the rock, and soon went to pieces, and ever 
since that time the fatal reef has borne the name 
of his luckless vessel. 

Our first object, on landing at Lerwick, was to 
find out the Post Office, which stands in 
Commercial Street, a long narrow thoroughfare, 
paved with flat stones, which traverses the whole 
length of the town. We received our letters from 
an amusing and eccentric public functionary, who, 
besides acting as clerk to the Postmaster, binds 
books, teaches elocution and dancing, and takes 
photographs. Afterwards we walked to Cleikum 
Loch, about a mile and a half from Lerwick, where, 
upon an island connected with the shore by a 
narrow causeway, are the ruins of an ancient 
Pictish fort supposed to have been similar to that 
on the island of Mousa. The island in the loch, 
covered with gray masses of time-worn stones, and 


backed by brown and bleak hills, forms a fine 
subject for the pencil. Next clay we made an 
excursion to the Lochs of Tingwall, about five 
miles distant from Lerwick. The road traverses a 
hilly district, and, near the town, every hill-side is 
scarped and broken up by the operations of the 
turf-cutters. AVe met numbers of them going to 
and returning from the peat moss. They were all 
women, and carried the peats on their backs in 
baskets exactly like inverted beehives. Many of 
them, as they trudged along the road, bending 
under their loads, were engaged in knitting ; 
several were good-looking and picturesquely 
dressed ; and an artist might easily have formed 
from among them an excellent foreground group 
for a picture of turf-cutting in Shetland. The 
Lochs of Tingwall fill up a hollow, with steep hills 
on one side and gentler slopes on the other. They 
abound in fish ; but, to fish them successfully, one 
must either wade very deep or procure a boat, as 
there is a great extent of shallow water along their 
margins. These lochs derive their name from a 
small green holm or island close to the shore of the 
upper loch, where courts of law used formerly to 
hold their meetings, from which it was termed — 
like similar places of convocation in Iceland and 


elsewhere — Thingvalla, now corrupted into Ting- 
wall. The Court of Tingwall was under the 
jurisdiction of the Foude or Governor, and the laws 
relating to particular districts were framed at the 
law tings or assemblies of the householders of these 
districts. Under the Norwegian rule, there were 
five of these tings in Shetland, and, under the 
Scottish dominion, ten, and they continued to exist 
in Orkney and Shetland until 1670. Lord 
Dufferin, in his delightful Yacht Cruise to 
Iceland, etc., gives an animated description of his 
visit to a Thingvalla in that island ; there, the ting 
was held on a rock, surrounded on all sides by a 
profound chasm passable only at one place, where 
a narrow ledge of rock connected it with the 
surrounding plain. On this rock the Icelandic 
householders held their meetings, just as those of 
Shetland did on the green holm. The ledge 
leading to the rock, and the causeway to the holm, 
were guarded by armed men during the meetings 
of the tings ; but, in Shetland, if a criminal could 
break through the guards and reach the ancient 
Church of Tingwall without being captured, he 
was permitted to escape unpunished. There is 
still to be seen, in the churchyard near the 
ruins of the old church, a stone almost covered 


with moss and lichens, and bearing the following 
inscription — 

Here lies an honest man, Thomas Boyne, sometimes Foude of 

After fishing the lochs with tolerable success, 
we walked to the fine old ruin of Scalloway Castle, 
passing on the way a tall upright monumental 
stone, which, according to one tradition, is said 
to have been erected to commemorate the death 
of a Danish general who was there slain while 
endeavouring to reduce the Norwegian colonists 
to submission. Another legend, however, affirms 
that it is a memorial stone raised to mark the spot 
where a son of an ancient Earl of Orkney was 
murdered by his father's orders. This youth, 
having incurred his father's displeasure, fled to 
a stronghold on an island in a loch in the district 
of Tingwall ; upon which the incensed earl sent 
a party of retainers from Orkney with peremptory 
instructions to bring back the fugitive dead or 
alive. They came up with the unfortunate noble- 
man in the valley of Tingwall, and immediately 
attacked and killed him, after which they cut off 
his head, and, on their return to Orkney, laid the 
ghastly token at his father's feet to show how 

faithfully his commands had been obeyed. But 


they met with a retribution they little anticipated. 
In a sudden revulsion of feeling, the stern earl 
wept over the head of his son, ordered his 
murderers to instant execution, and afterwards 
erected this stone on the spot where he fell. 

Scalloway Castle was built in the year 1G00 
by the infamous Earl Patrick, the tyrant of the 
Orkney and Shetland Islands, whose crimes at 
length brought him to the scaffold. It is a square 
tower three stories in height, with large windows, 
and on the summit of each angle of the building 
is a small round turret. It is now a mere shell, 
and the interior is allowed to remain in a filthy 
state, no effort whatever being made to preserve 
this fine old ruin from dirt and decay. In order to 
defray the expense incurred in building Scalloway 
Castle, Earl Patrick imposed heavy taxes upon 
the Shetlanders, by whom he was deservedly and 
universally hated. On completing the castle, he 
applied to a Mr. Pitcairn, minister of Northmavine, 
a bold and witty man, for an inscription to be 
placed over the gateway of his new abode, and 
received the following verse of Scripture in answer 
— "That house which is built upon a rock shall 
stand, but built upon the sand it will fall." Dis- 
guising his resentment at the implied censure, the 




earl quietly remarked, " My father's house was 
built upon the sand, its foundations are already 
giving way, and it will fall ; but Scalloway Castle 
is founded on a rock and will stand/' He then 
desired Mr. Pitcairn to turn the verse he had 
selected into a Latin distich, which he caused 
to be sculptured over the principal gateway of 
the castle, where traces of the letters are still 

Nearly a third of the adult male population 
of the Shetland Isles are occupied in seafaring 
pursuits; from 1000 to 1500 engage annually 
in the Greenland whale and seal fisheries, and 
as many go southward to serve as sailors in mer- 
chant vessels. On this account it is often very 
difficult to get agricultural labourers even at high 
wages, and they sometimes require to be imported 
from the county of Caithness. The boats almost 
universally used by the Shetland fishermen are 
Norwegian skiffs, small fragile craft carrying a large 
lug -sail, in the management of which they are 
very expert. The smaller skiffs, those from ten 
to twelve feet keel, are brought over from Norway 
complete, while the larger ones, from twelve to 
twenty -two feet keel, are first put together in 
Norway, then taken to pieces, and sent over to 



Shetland in planks numbered and assorted, so that 
they can be easily put together again. 

Some curious superstitions still exist among the 
Shetlanders ; one of the most singular relating to 
the extraordinary powers of those who belong to 
masonic fraternities. The fishermen will scarcely 
00 to sea on the day when a masonic lodge meets, 
and the common people very generally believe 
that freemasons have the power of discovering 
lost and stolen goods. A woman recently walked 
fifteen miles to inquire of a gentleman belonging 
to a lodoe of freemasons what had become of an 
old petticoat which she had lost ; and, on another 
occasion, a young man came from a considerable 
distance for the purpose of ascertaining from a 
freemason who was the real father of an illegitimate 
child which had been unjustly fathered upon him. 
Many curious anecdotes are told of the discoveries 
made by Shetland freemasons ingeniously taking 
advantage of the popular belief in their extra- 
ordinary powers. Thus a poor labourer had been 
robbed of his little hard-earned stock of money, 
and applied to a freemason for assistance in dis- 
covering the robber and getting back his hoard. 
The freemason directed him to give public notice 
of his application to him. and to advertise on the 


church door that the money must be brought back 
to a place specified in the neighbourhood of the 
house from which it had been taken by a certain 
day, at the same time promising that no one would 
be on the look-out to observe who restored it; 
and such was the influence of the popular belief, 
that the stolen money was actually returned on 
the appointed day. 

Before leaving Lerwick Harbour, we spent a day 
very pleasantly in an excursion to Noss Head, the 
loftiest cliff in these islands. We landed on the 
island of Bressay, which is about two miles wide, 
walked across it, were ferried over the narrow 
channel which divides the islands of Noss and 
Bressay, and then commenced the ascent of the 
steep grassy slope that leads to the summit of the 
magnificent headland, so familiar an object to all 
who visit these stormy seas. In three-quarters of 
an hour we reached the verge of the cliff, where, 
upon lying down and peering cautiously over, we 
could see the ocean washing the foot of the 
precipice 700 feet beneath ; while countless flocks 
of sea-birds were wheeling and screaming in mid- 
air, or dotting every ledge and projection on the 
face of the rock like spots of snow. The view 
from the summit was magnificent. To the north- 


ward, divided by many a winding sound, and 
indented by many a voe, island after island 
stretched away farther than the eye could reach. 
Eastward lay an unbroken expanse of sea. To the 
westward were the green slopes of Noss, the island 
and Ward Hill of Bressay, and the town of Lerwick ; 
while far to the south rose the bold cliffs of Sum- 
burgh and Fitful Head. After enjoying for some 
time this noble and varied prospect, we proceeded 
to visit the Cradle of Noss, which is a movable 
wooden chair or box attached to two slender ropes, 
spanning a tremendous chasm which separates the 
Holm of Noss from the main island. The Holm of 
Noss, thus rudely joined to the larger island of the 
same name, rises abruptly 160 feet above the sea, 
and is girt in on all sides by inaccessible precipices. 
It is very small — about 500 feet long by 170 wide, 
but its surface is flat, and covered with tolerable 
pasturage. The chasm across which the cradle 
extends is sixty-five feet wide ; the sea below 
thirty feet deep. The farmer on Noss breeds a 
great number of Shetland ponies, and some of 
those we saw on the island were exceedingly hand- 
some. There are several fresh - water lochs on 
Bressay, in one of which there are fine pink-fleshed 
trout. They are, however, very shy, and we only 


succeeded in enticing two good ones into our 

Next day, under the guidance of a gentleman 
to whose unwearied kindness and attention we 
were deeply indebted during our stay, we set out 
on a walk to the ruined Burgh of Brindister, about 
five miles to the south-west of Lerwick. On our 
way we passed the pretty bay of Gulbervik, where 
there is a good deal of cultivation, chiefly on what 
is termed the run-rig system. There is no rotation 
of crops practised in Shetland, and one of the 
farmers will often take five successive crops of corn 
from the same field. Another wasteful and injuri- 
ous custom is also prevalent : the turf is cut away 
from the tops of the hills, and mixed with the corn- 
fields on the lower and more sheltered slopes, in 
order to improve their soil, and in this way any 
agricultural value which these uplands may once 
have possessed is destroyed for a long term of 
years. After a pleasant walk of an hour and a 
half we reached the ruined Burgh, picturesquely 
placed on the verge of a precipice rising 100 feet 
above the sea which washes its base. The low 
massive doorway faces westward, and scarcely a 
yard of green sward intervenes between it and the 
edge of the precipice. The walls of the ancient 


tower still rise twelve feet above the ground, gray, 
time-worn, and overgrown with lichens. On pass- 
ing through the doorway, you enter a dark passage 
or gallery three feet square, extending for about 
thirty feet into the interior of the building ; and a 
short distance beyond the entrance, a narrow 
aperture opens on the right of the passage, just 
wide enough to admit the body of a man of 
ordinary size. Into this one of our party, a 
zealous antiquarian, who had provided himself 
with a torch, contrived to crawl ; and, after 
wriggling about for some time, was lost to view in 
the darkness. A few minutes afterwards, we saw 
a head begrimed with dust emerge from the open- 
ing, followed by the shoulders belonging to it ; but 
having got thus far, the head and shoulders 
remained stationary ; so that, after having satisfied 
ourselves that the dusty apparition was our friend 
who had shortly before disappeared, and not a 
Pictish Troll come to assault the invaders of his 
privacy, we promptly laid hold of him, and by a 
vigorous pull hauled him out of the passage, and 
then into the open air, where his heated visage and 
dusty garments provoked a general laugh. He 
had, however, succeeded in reaching the penetralia 
of the ancient Burgh ; for, after crawling through 


the narrow opening in which he so nearly stuck, 
he came to an inner chamber of larger dimensions, 
apparently about eight feet in length and height, 
and about four feet in width, beyond which there 
appeared to be no possibility of penetrating. The 
curiosity of our antiquarian friend being thus 
fully satisfied, we bade farewell to the Burgh of 
Brindister, whose gray stones have looked out 
from their wave- washed precipice, over the waste 
of waters, for more than a thousand years ; and, 
could they but find a tongue, might tell many a 
strange and thrilling tale of the warships of Theo- 
dosius, manned by the all-conquering Romans ; of 
the Saxon pirates who afterwards became the 
terror of the Celtic Aborigines ; of the Norsk Sea- 
kings who followed in their track ; of King Haco 
and his mighty expedition against Scotland ; and 
many another story of "the old, old time." 

We afterwards paid a visit to the interior of a 
Shetland cottage belonging to the tenant of a small 
farm in the neighbourhood. It was a thatched 
house, containing two tolerable rooms with scarcely 
any furniture, but carefully swept and scrupulously 
clean. The outer room had an earthen floor and a 
large circular stone hearth, on which a peat fire 
was burning brightly, while above the fire was an 


iron rod with a hook attached, from which a kettle 
might be suspended. The inner room contained a 
box-bed and a few chairs ; chimneys there were 
none, the smoke escaping through apertures in the 
roof. The farmer and his wife were a good-looking 
couple, and, like all the Shetlanders we met, most 
kind and hospitable. They gave us some good 
brown bread and sweet milk, and an acid composi- 
tion not at all palatable, called run milk. We had 
afterwards a delightful walk back to Lerwick in a 
clear mild autumn evening, and got on board our 
cutter much pleased with the day's excursion. 

Next morning, at ten o'clock, we sailed from 
Lerwick bound for Balta Sound in the island of 
Unst, the most northerly of the Shetland group. 
There was a strong breeze, which freshened towards 
the afternoon, so that we were obliged to shorten 
sail ; but, under its favouring influence, we bowled 
merrily along all day, passing many a stack and 
skerry, 1 many an island and voe. We took the 
inner passage between Lerwick and Balta Sound, 
which has the advantage of being sheltered by 
islands, for the greater part of the distance, from 
the swell of the sea ; but which is also intricate 

1 Stack signifies a precipitous rock rising from the sea, — Skerry a flat 
insulated rock rising above high-water mark. 


and beset with rocks, so that large ships generally 
prefer to keep outside the islands. We, however, 
had two Shetlanders among our crew, who had 
been familiar with the navigation from boyhood, 
and knew every rock and roost among the islands, 
so that, to us, the inner passage presented no 
dangers. We passed the Unicorn rock formerly 
mentioned, and, beyond it, the Inner Voder, the 
Mid Voder, and the Outer Voder, as well as the long 
line of jagged crags, rejoicing in unpronounce- 
able names, which together form what are termed 
the Stepping-stones. After running the gauntlet 
through these threatening reefs, we passed the 
island of Whalsey belonging to Mr. Bruce of Sim- 
bister, one of the richest and farthest -descended 
proprietors in Shetland. Simbister House is a 
large, plain, square building, standing on a slope 
above a sheltered bay. It is built almost entirely 
of granite, and the offices and outbuildings seem 
very extensive. After passing Whalsey we crossed 
an open expanse of sea, where we felt the full force 
of the heavy swell from the eastward, and were a 
o-ood deal knocked about until we got under the 

o o 

lee of the island of Fetlar, belonging to Sir Arthur 
Nicholson, whose residence of Burgh Hall, with its 
massive round tower and strangely-grouped build- 


ings, forms a conspicuous and picturesque object 
from the sea. Sir Arthur Nicholson is the repre- 
sentative of an old baronetage dating back to the 
creation of 1629. Beyond Fetlar, we entered the 
harbour of Uya Sound, as the channel between 
Unst and the little island of Uya is termed. At 
this point two of our party left the cutter and 
landed at the little village of Garda in Unst, 
intending to walk across to Balta Sound, while 
the yacht should stand on for the same destination 
round the eastern shore of the island. After land- 
ing they proceeded to the Loch of Belmont, about 
two miles distant from the village, where very fine 
trout are often caught ; but, owing to the cold and 
boisterous weather, they had so little success that 
they determined to give up fishing and attempt to 
get a sketch of Mouness Castle, one of the most 
interesting remains in Shetland, situated about 
four miles from the scene of their piscatorial 
operations. This castle consists of a square mass 
of building with round towers at two of the 
opposite angles, and hanging turrets at the other 
two. It was founded in 1598 by Lawrence Bruce, 
from whom the two Shetland families of Sim bister 
and Sumburgh claim to be descended. It stands 
on a headland forming the south-eastern extremity 


of Unst, and over the doorway is the following 
inscription very beautifully carved : — 

List ye to know this building Quha began 1 
Lawrence the Bruce he was that worthy man ; 
Quha earnestly his ayris and afspring prayis 
To help and not to hurt this work alwayis. 

After completing their sketches of Mouness 
Castle they started to walk to Balta Sound, a 
distance of about seven miles over a brown track- 
less moor. They had, however, taken the pre- 
caution of laying down their course by compass, to 
which they steadily kept, so that, on coming in 
sight of the bay, the first object that greeted their 
eyes was the cutter lying snugly at anchor just 
below where they stood. On their way they saw 
great numbers of snipe and large flocks of golden 
plover ; there are no grouse in these islands, 
though they are plentiful among the Orkneys. 
They passed several sombre -looking lakes and 
shallow mountain burns. The largest of these 
lakes lies in a deep hollow about three miles from 
Balta Sound ; it is called Watley Loch, and is said 
to afford excellent sport to the angler. They 
reached the yacht at eight in the evening ; and, as 
it blew a gale during the night, they had every 
reason to congratulate themselves on having; gained 


so safe an anchorage. Balta Sound is a loner 
narrow bay completely landlocked by the small 
island of Balta, which lies across its mouth. There 
is a deep-water entrance both on the north and 
south sides of the island, but the first is very 
narrow. Within the Sound the British navy 
might securely ride at anchor, for there is not a 
finer harbour on our coasts than this remote bay. 
It is the first port that vessels bound to this 
country from Archangel can make, and our whaling 
ships have frequently recourse to it for shelter. 
At present there is no lighthouse on the island of 
Balta, where such a guide to the storm-tossed 
mariner might often be of the greatest service, 
but we were told that it was intended to erect one 
as soon as possible upon its southern extremity. 

Unst is one of the largest of the Shetland 
Islands, measuring twelve miles in length by three 
in breadth, and containing a population of 3000. 
Among the hills near Balta Sound is a small 
stream, remarkable for the crystal purity of its 
waters, which have long enjoyed a local celebrity 
for their healing powers. Those who wished to 
profit by the sanative virtue of the waters were 
directed to walk to the source of the stream, throw 
three stones on an adjacent piece of ground, and 


then drink of the waters of the spring, which, 
under these conditions, were supposed to ensure 
health to the drinker. The name of this stream is 
the Yelaburn, or Hielaburn, which means the water 
or burn of health. The hills of Crucifield, Haprlale, 


Buness, and several other places in the neighbour- 
hood of Balta Sound, contain the valuable 
mineral known as chromate of iron, first discovered 
by Dr. Samuel Hibbert in the beginning of the 
present century. It is now extensively wrought, 
and a steam-engine has recently been erected in 
connection with these mines, which belong to 
twenty -two different proprietors, of whom the 
principal are Mr. Edmonston of Buness, and Mrs. 


Mowatt Cameron, Buness House. The residence 
of Mr. Edmonston is memorable as having been 
the place where the celebrated French Philosopher 
Biot, in 1817, carried on a series of experiments 
for the purpose of determining, in this high 
latitude, the variation in the length, of the seconds 
pendulum ; and, in the following year, he was 
succeeded by Captain Kater, who occupied the 
same station with the same purpose. For his 
assiduous and unremitting attention to these 
accomplished strangers, Mr. Edmonston received 
the thanks of the Royal Society of London and of 
the National Institute of Paris. 

On the road from Balta Sound to Burra Fiord, 
on the other side of the islands, lies the Loch of 
Cliff, the largest sheet of fresh water in Shetland, 
and the most northerly loch in the British Isles, 
filling a narrow limestone valley, between rocks of 
gneiss and serpentine. It abounds in trout of 
moderate size, of which we captured six dozen in 
the course of a day's fishing. There are said to be 
not fewer than ninety fresh- water lochs in the 
Shetlands, most of them well stocked with trout ; 
they generally communicate with the sea, so that 
in the latter end of August and month of Septem- 
ber sea-trout frequent them in great numbers ; 


add to this, that the fishing is not preserved, and 
it must be allowed that these islands hold out 
great attractions to the enterprising angler. On 
reaching the Burra Fiord, our attention was fixed 
by the commanding form of the hill which rises 
above its eastern shore. It is called Saxafiord ; 
and on its summit are the ruins of a tower said to 
have been erected by a giant named Saxa. The 
name of the hill signifies the watch-tower of Saxa, 
who seems to have been a distinguished personage 
in these parts, as a deep circular cavity communi- 
catino; with the ocean also takes its name from 
him, being termed Saxa's Kettle, the giant having 
used it for cooking his broth. 

The morning after our expedition to the Loch 
of Cliff rose bright and beautiful ; and, favoured 
by a gentle breeze from the south-west, we left 
Balta Sound, bound for the Outer Stack, the 
northernmost point of Her Majesty's British 
dominions, and in about the same latitude as the 
entrance to Hudson's Bay. We had to pass 
through the Scaw Eoost, where, though there was 
but little wind, we were terribly tossed about by a 
very heavy sea which continued during the whole 
of the day. Not far from the entrance to the 
Burra Fiord we came in siodit of a lighthouse 


most romantically situated upon a sharp and lofty 
ridge of rocks called Flugga, with which we 
narrowly escaped making too close an acquaint- 
ance. We had not succeeded in getting a 
sufficient offing before the wind failed us, and the 
tide, and long heavy swell, were drifting us 
towards the rock, so that we had to make 
vigorous use of our sweeps to get clear of it. For 
some time we were very anxious about the safety 
of the cutter, and it was only the most strenuous 
exertions that at last enabled us to creep away 
from its dangerous vicinity. A long, glassy, 
rolling swell from the north-west tossed us about 
all night ; and, when morning broke, we found 
ourselves just off the entrance to Balta Sound. 
About ten o'clock, however, the wished-for breeze 
sprung up. We had sailed along the whole eastern 
coast of the Shetlands from Sumburgh Head to 
Flugga ; and now our course lay southwards for 
Kirkwall, the ancient capital of the Orkney Islands. 
Favoured by a fine northerly breeze, we made a 
speedy run during the day, all sail set, and every- 
thing drawing. This time we passed outside the 
Island of Fetlar, where may still be seen, occupy- 
ing a low site near the shore, an ancient work, 
which some have supposed to be the remains of a 


Koman encampment constructed by the soldiers of 
Theodosius. To the east of Fetlar lie the danger- 
ous rocks known to sailors as the Out Skerries, on 
the largest of which a lighthouse has been recently 
erected. Two centuries ago a richly-laden vessel, 


the Carmelan of Amsterdam, freighted with three 
millions of guilders, struck on the Skerries and 
went to pieces, only four of her crew being saved 
from the wreck. 

The sky all day was cloudless, and the atmo- 
sphere singularly clear, so that we saw the islands, 
as we glided swiftly past their shores, to the best 
advantage. At one period we had Noss Head, 


Sumburgh Head, Fitful Head, and Fair Isle 
all in view at the same moment, though the 
distance between the first and last of these high 
lands is upwards of forty-five miles. Towards 
sunset the bold cliffs of Shetland had faded away 
to blue specks in the distance, and we watched 
them gradually dwindle and disappear, seeming to 
sink in the ocean, as the favouring breeze bore us 
rapidly farther and farther away. 

Note. — For an account of the Mussel and Oyster Fisheries in the 
Shetland Islands, the latter of which have been as much exhausted as 
those in the Orkney Islands, as described in Chapter I. pages 11-14, see 
the statement in my Report of 1887, which forms Appendix B. 

i'.ukssay and xoss iikad. 


The Fisheries of Orkney. 

In the beginning of July 1886 I commenced my inspection 
of the Fisheries in Orkney by driving from Stromness to the 
Bridge of Waithe, under which the waters of Loch Stenness 
flow into the sea in a deep strong current, through three 
arches, and the flood tide from the sea mingles with the waters 
of the loch. 

Loch Stenness is a great sheet of water about 15 miles in 
circumference, including its upper and lower divisions. The 
name is sometimes applied to designate both the divisions of 
the loch, and sometimes it is applied only to the lower loch 
which communicates with the sea ; while the upper loch, 
which is entirely fresh, is termed the Loch of Harray. The 
banks of these lakes, like those of all the Orcadian lakes, are 
bare and treeless ; and the upper loch is divided from the lower 
by two long narrow promontories that jut out from opposite 
sides, and so nearly meet in the middle as to be connected by 
a low bridge, called the Bridge of Brogar, over which the 
roadway passes. 

The area of the Loch of Stenness is 1792 acres, and that 
of the Loch of Harray 2432 acres ; or, together, 4224 acres. 
A better idea of their great extent will be got when I state 
that the famous Loch Leven, in Fifeshire, which receives 
nearly the whole drainage of the county of Kinross, which 
yields an average of at least 11,000 trout per annum, the 
mean weight of each trout being nearly a pound, and brings 
a rental of £1000 a year to its fortunate possessor, has an 
area of only 3406 acres, or 818 acres less than Stenness and 


Harray. I am quite convinced that, if these lochs were as 
well protected as Loch Leven they would soon become as 
productive. And it should be kept in mind that their season 
commences just about the time when that on Loch Leven ends. 
A deep margin of sea-weed extends for some distance above 
the Bridge of Waithe into the Loch of Stenness, and on the 
seaward side of the bridge there is also a thick growth of 
sea- weeds. Beyond the margin of sea- weeds only inside the 
Bridge of Waithe, we find a little farther on sea-weeds mixed 
with fresh-water plants, and in the Loch of Harray fresh-water 
plants alone. Stenness is decidedly brackish, while the water 
in Harray is fresh ; the former is nearly 4 miles long, with 
a maximum breadth of lh miles ; while the latter is 4| miles 
long, and varying in breadth from 3 furlongs to If miles. 
There is no transmutation of the marine vegetation anywhere 
to be seen into fresh-water forms. They are as distinct now 
as they were thousands of years ago, as is eloquently pointed 
out in the following passage from Hugh Miller's Footsteps of 
the Creator: — 

Along the green edge of the Lake of Stenness, selvaged by the 
line of detached weeds with which a recent gale had strewed its 
shores, I marked that for the first few miles the accumulation 
consisted of marine alga?, here and there mixed with tufts of stunted 
reeds or rushes, and that as I receded from the sea, it was the 
alga? that became stunted and dwarfish, and that the reeds, aquatic 
grasses, and rushes, grown greatly more bulky in the mass, were 
also more fully developed individually, till at length the marine 
vegetation altogether disappeared, and the vegetable debris of the 
shore became purely lacustrine, — I asked myself whether here, if 
anywhere, a transition flora between loch and sea ought not to be 
found? For many thousand years ere the tall gray obelisks of 
Stenness, whose forms I saw this morning reflected in the water, 
had been torn from the quarry or laid down in mystic circle on 
their flat promontories, had this lake admitted the waters of the 
sea, and been salt in its lower reaches and fresh in its higher. And 
during this protracted period had its quiet, well-sheltered bottom 
been exposed to no disturbing influences through which the delicate 
process of transmutation could have been marred or arrested. Here 
then, if in any circumstances, ought we to have had, in the broad 
permanently brackish reaches, at least indications of a vegetation 


intermediate in its nature between the monocotyledons of the lake 
and the algre of the sea ; and yet not a vestige of snch an inter- 
mediate vegetation could I find among the up-piled debris of the 
mixed floras, marine and lacustrine. The lake possesses no such 
intermediate vegetation. As the water freshens in its middle 
reaches the alga? become dwarfish and ill-developed ; one species 
after another ceases to appear, as the habitat becomes wholly 
unfavourable to it ; until at length we find, instead of the brown, 
rootless, flowerless fucoids and confervas of the ocean, the green, 
rooted, flower-bearing flags, rushes, and aquatic grasses of the fresh 
water. Many thousands of years have failed to originate a single 
intermediate plant. 

Besides sea-trout and yellow trout, the lower loch is said 
to contain flounders, cod, herrings, skate, whitings, eels, lythe, 
saithe, and gray mullet. There are no salmon now to be 
found in the Loch of Stenness. But in a book entitled 
Present State of the Orkney Islands, published in 1775, and 
reprinted in 1884, we are told that — 

In this loch are abundance of trout, and in all probability there 
would be a good salmon fishing here, were it not that the mouth 
of the loch is so much choked up with sea-weed that the fish cannot 
get into it. What confirms this opinion is, that in some charters 
belonging to the gentlemen in the neighbourhood the salmon fishing 
in the loch is expressly reserved to the king as his exclusive right. 

The yellow trout in Stenness and Harray are equal in 
quality to any in Scotland. But they are not nearly so 
plentiful as they ought to be ; nor, as a rule, do they rise 
freely. They have been taken as heavy as 6 lbs. But such 
a size is very rare, though individuals of 2 and 3 lbs. are not 
uncommon. 1 I have known one gentleman catch twelve trout 
in Harray in a few hours, weighing 13 lbs.; and Mr. A. 
Irvine Fortescue of Swanbister, in answer to my printed 
queries about the trout fishing in the Loch of Harray, writes : — 

Myself and friend once caught twelve and a half dozen, weighing 
40 lbs., with fly, in four hours. 

Mr, Fortescue states that, at times, the trout assemble in 

1 Since the above was written the handsomest yellow trout I ever saw was 
taken from the Loch of Stenness on a set-line. The weight was no less than 
28 lbs. Mr. Malloch of Perth, the 1 well-known fishing-tackle maker, made a 
beautiful cast from it. 


dense shoals in some of the small bays of the Loch of Harray, 
and are, on such occasions, swept out in vast quantities by 
the net, and he is therefore of opinion that the use of the 
sweep-net should be prohibited in the Loch of Harray, as he 
considers it even deadlier than set-lines and set-nets. Mr. 
Fortescue mentions that, on the occasion when he and his 
friend caught the twelve and a half dozen, as above stated, 
they had come upon one of these shoals of trout, and he says 
that, with a net 

The entire shoal might have been taken at one sweep, the 
result possibly a cart-load. 

Sea-trout ascend to the Loch of Stenness and the other 
Orcadian lochs communicating with the sea, beginning in July 
and continuing throughout the autumn. The best place for 
sea-trout fishing in connection with the Loch of Stenness is 
called " The Bush," the term applied to the lower part of the 
stream on the seaward side of the Bridge of Waithe. I have 
known upwards of fifty sea-trout hooked there in a day by one 
rod, though, for want of a landing-net, only twenty of them 
were basketed. " The Bush " is a favourite resting-place for 
sea -trout before running up into the loch, and the most 
favourable time for fishing it is from half-ebb round to half- 
flood. A westerly wind is said to suit it best. 

Before 1881 and 1882, when the Orkneys were constituted 
a Fishery District, and the usual bye-laws passed fixing 
estuaries, a close season, the meshes of nets to be used for the 
capture of fish of the salmon kind, and prohibiting certain 
methods of fishing, all kinds of destructive and improvident 
modes of fishing were commonly practised on the Loch of 
Stenness, and more particularly on the upper part of it, the 
Loch of Harray. Set-lines, set-nets, sweep-nets, and the otter, 
were in constant operation ; and, although the use of the 
otter and the fixed nets is now illegal, the " Harray lairds," 
as the small proprietors on the banks of the Loch of Harray 
are called, cannot be prevented, as the law at present stands, 
from using the sweep-net or set-lines, as they are udallers, 


and many of their properties have a frontage to the loch. 
No District Board has been formed for the Orkneys, nor is 
there any Angling Association for the protection and improve- 
ment of the fishings ; and from what I saw and heard when 
in Orkney, I am by no means convinced that the statutory 
restrictions intended to prevent wasteful and improvident 
modes of fishing are much attended to on the Lochs of 
Stenness and Harray. Were they fairly fished and properly 
protected they ought to be equal to any lochs in the United 
Kingdom ; and this is not merely my own opinion, after a 
pretty extensive acquaintance with these lochs, but that of 
every angler who has had much experience of them. In his 
admirable book on The Orkneys and Shetland, published in 
1883, Mr. Tudor writes as follows of these two great lakes : — 

For years, nets, set-lines, and the infernal poaching machine, the 
otter, have been used to such an extent that it is a wonder any 
trout have been left, but now the Orkneys have been formed into 
a Salmon Fishery district, set-lines and otters became illegal, and 
netting can no longer be carried out with the herring-net mesh, 
and in the reckless manner hitherto in vogue. In fact, if only the 
fish can be protected during the spawning season, these two lochs 
should, for angling, be second to none in Scotland. 

To the same effect Mr. Sutherland Gramie of Grsemeshall, 
who has a large estate on the Mainland of Orkney, writes, in 
answer to my printed queries : — 

I believe that if the lochs of Stenness and Harray were properly 
looked after and preserved by an Angling Association, they would 
be the finest fishing lochs in Scotland, both for sea and loch trout. 

But without a District Board or an Angling Association, 
what is the use of statutory prohibitions of destructive and 
unfair modes of fishing 1 What are laws good for if there is 
no one to enforce them 1 They are a mere dead letter, not 
likely to be respected or observed by those whose interest, 
or fancied interest, it is to break them. 

Mr. Heddle, the proprietor of the island of Hoy, an 
experienced angler, agrees with the views above expressed, 
and he stated to me when I was in Orkney that no good has, 
as yet, resulted from bringing the Orkneys under the operation 


of the Salmon Fishery Acts of 18G2 and 18G8. No District 
Board, no Association of Proprietors has been formed, no 
prosecutions have been instituted — matters go on just as 
before. With regard to the Lochs of Stenness and Harray, 
he believes that nothing short of the killing of the spawning 
fish and extensive ottering could have so much reduced the 
fishing on such great expanses of water with such wonderful 
natural capabilities. Fair fishing would never do it. Twenty- 
one years ago his father and he killed so many fish in Stenness 
in one day that they did not like to take any more. There 
were between 100 and 200, all good-sized trout. Four years 
ago he fished the same loch and got only about half a dozen 
fish. One of these, however, was 2 h lbs. 

Mr. Gould, chamberlain to the Earl of Zetland, corroborates 
these views. He told me that the Acts had done no good as 
regarded the great lakes of Stenness and Harray, in which 
poaching was as rife as before the Acts were made to apply 
to the islands. A clause should be put into an Act of 
Parliament absolutely prohibiting ottering. Mr. Gould is of 
opinion that the right of salmon fishing, or rather sea-trout 
fishing, in the Lochs of Stenness and Harray belongs to the 
Earl of Zetland or to the Crown. He maintains that the 
Harray lairds are not udallers, and that their riparian rights 
give them a title to yellow trout fishing only. 

In the autumn of 1880 a public inquiry was held by the 
Commissioners of Scotch Salmon Fisheries at Kirkwall, 
Stromness, and the Bridge of Waithe, in connection with the 
proposal to erect the Orkney Islands into a Fishery District, 
and some interesting and important evidence was laid before 
them about the fisheries in Stenness and Harray, and the 
sea-trout fisheries in the Orkneys generally. With regard to 
the size attained by the Orcadian sea-trout, one witness stated 
that he had heard of one caught in a net, 21 J lbs. weight, 
and had seen one of 12 h lbs.; and another witness stated 
that he had seen one of 14 lbs. One of the witnesses 
examined at Kirkwall said, that about six years ago there 
was a curious epidemic among the trout in the Loch of 


Harray, when most of the fish died. He went down to the 
hanks of the loch one day and found them lying dead all 
along the shore. There was no appearance of any fungoid 
growth on any of the fish. The season had been a very hot 
and dry one. Next year there were very few fish. The 
majority of the witnesses examined agreed as to the evil 
effects of the destructive modes of fishing practised in Lochs 
Stenness and Harray, such as set-lines, sweep-nets, and fixed 
nets, otters, and the non-observance of any annual close time. 
In consequence of this the sea-trout and loch-trout are less 
numerous, and the individual fish are smaller in size than 
they used to be. In short, the tendency of the evidence 
taken by the Commissioners clearly proved the evil effects of 
allowing fishing unrestricted as to season or implements, and 
the necessity of imposing some restrictions. One witness 
deponed that he had seen eight or nine otters being used on 
the Loch of Harray one day, and the next day two on the 
Loch of Stenness. Another said that during the last five 
years there had been a marked falling off in the fishings, 
which he imputed to the use of sweep-nets, lines (each with 
several hooks) set during the night and drawn in the morning, 
and nets stretched and fixed across the whole breadth of the 
water above and below the Bridges of Waithe and Brogar, so as 
to intercept the passing fish. These nets have a small mesh, 
like herring-nets, and are set, not only in the lochs, but also 
across the burns running into them, where they do a great 
deal of mischief, especially during the spawning season. 
Another witness, who had then (1880) known the Loch of 
Stenness for thirty years, said, that when he first knew it 
there was nothing but fair fishing with rod and line. He 
also said that he had, long ago, killed thirty sea-trout with 
rod and line in that loch in three hours. They weighed from 
3 lbs. downwards. Such a take would be impossible now 
owing to the otters, set-lines, and nets ; but if a close time 
were enacted and enforced, and the lochs protected, such are 
their natural advantages that the fishings would recover in 
a few years. 



Oysters and Mussels in the Shetland Islands. 

Mr. Tudor, in his Orkneys and Shetland, published in 1883, 
writes as follows : — 

The Shetlanders are said to have nearly exhausted the large 
whelks known as buckles, and to he fast destroying the mussel scalps, 
as they have already done the oyster-beds which previously existed 
in Cliff Sound and other places. 

My recent visit to Shetland enables me to corroborate the 
truth of this statment, especially as regards oysters. Yet 
there can be no doubt that oysters were once plentiful and 
cheap, even within the memory of living man, and might 
again be so if judiciously cultivated and adequately protected. 
Mr. Anderson of Hillswick, a fish-curer and general merchant 
in Shetland, whose acquaintance with the fisheries ranges over 
a long series of years, sends me the following list of localities 
in Shetland which, he thinks, would be suitable for oyster 
culture, specifying those in which oysters are still found : — 

1. Bressay Sound, on the east side, near the kirk ; west side, 

docks to Grimesta. 

2. Dales Voe ; oyster spat was sown here by proprietor, Mr. 


3. Laxfirth Voe should be an excellent place, also good trout 


4. Wadbister Voe. 

5. Catfirth Voe. 

6. Dourye Voe. 

7. Vidlin Voe. 

8. Swining Voe. 

9. Collafirth Voe (Delting). 

10. Dales Voe (do.) 

11. Firths Voe. 

12. Tofts Voe, near Mossbank. 

13. Hamna Voe (Yell). Fine trout taken here. 

14. Burravoe (do.) 

15. Reafirth Voe (do.), or Mid Yell. 

1 6. Basta Voe (Yell). Here oysters are found. 


17. Balta Sound (Unst). 

18. Whalfirth Voe (Yell). 

19. Lady Voe (do.) West Sandwick. 

20. Collafirtli Voe, Northmaven, 

21. Quayfirtli Voe do. 

22. Gluss Voe do. 

23. Garths Voe (Delting). 

24. Voxter Voe (do.), and all round to Northmaven. 

25. Hubens, near Foula Ness. 

26. Ron as Voe. 

27. Hamna Voe, Northmaven ■ trout or salmon caught here 

some years ago, 14 lb. weight. 

28. Urafirth Voe, Northmaven, near Hillswick. Oysters found. 

29. Hammers Voe. 

30. Gunnister Voe. 

31. Mangester Voe. 

32. Roe Sound (Delting). Here oysters have been found. 

33. Burravoe, in Busta Voe. Here also oysters are found. 

34. Olnafirth Voe. 

35. Gonfirth Voe. 

36. Aiths Voe and East Burrafirth Voe. 

37. Vementry, Clousta Voe, and Unifirth Voe. 

38. West Burrafirth Voe. 

39. Vaila Sound. 

40. Gruting Voe. 

41. Bixter Voe. Here oysters are found. 

42. Wiesdale Voe. 

43. Stromness Voe. 

44. Whiteness Voe. 

45. Burra Isles. Here oysters are found. 

46. Trondra and Scalloway. 

In his letter to me, enclosing the above list, Mr. Anderson 
writes as follows : — 

I hope one possessed of capital may see the way to prosecute 
the oyster culture here ; it might become of immense importance 
to our country. 

Of the localities mentioned by Mr. Anderson, I have 
personally visited Dales Voe, Aiths Voe, Laxo Voe, Catfirth 
Voe, Wadbister Voe, Bixter Voe, Basta Voe, Balta Sound, 
Stromness Voe, and some others, and I quite agree with him 
in thinking them well fitted for oyster cultivation. 

I have received a good many communications in answer to 


the printed queries on the subject of oysters and mussels in 
Shetland. One gentleman writes : — 

I consider it most essential that the oyster-culturist should have 
a legal right to the beds, and also that he should be enabled to 
claim protection. Almost every voe in Shetland would be suitable 
for oyster culture, especially Basta Voe, Garths Voe, and Arna Voe. 

Another states that — 

The number of oysters has greatly decreased. I remember, as 
a boy, the women used to bring them to the houses and sold them 
for Is. the 100. That would be in the early part of 1870. The 
Voe of Bixter has been completely dredged up. One of the 
neighbouring tenants made <£500 one winter by dredging and 

One of the principal proprietors in Shetland writes : — 

The Burra Islands, near Scalloway, is the only place where a few 
oysters are now got. Oysters formerly were abundant in Basta Voe, 
North Yell, and sold at Is. the barrel. But they were dredged up 
to the very last one. 

The fishery officer at Lerwick states that there are no 
oyster beds or mussel scalps at present in Shetland which are 
regularly worked and yield a profit to their owners : — 

Oysters have decreased, but the supply of mussels is about the 
same. Oysters were at one time got in considerable numbers near 
Burra Isle, but have been dredged out. It would be essential to 
have the protection of the law in some form. 

He gives the following places as best suited for oyster 
or mussel culture — Basta Voe, Olnafirth Voe, Vaila Sound, 
Weisdale Voe, Burra Isle, etc. etc. A Lerwick merchant, 
thoroughly well informed in all matters relating to the 
fisheries, writes : — 

Any oysters or mussels got in Shetland are taken up without 
any leave being asked from any one. But very few oysters remain. 
The number of oysters and mussels has diminished very consider- 
ably. There are a great many cases in which formerly productive 
oyster and mussel beds have been dredged out and destroyed. No 
steps are being taken to restore such beds. Protection is essential. 
I should say that all round Shetland there are places suitable for 
the culture of both oysters and mussels. But nothing will be done 
by proprietors or others to improve the present state of matters 
until the law assists them. 


A yacht cruise from Forth to Clyde, 

through the Caledonian Canal, 

to the head of Loch Etive, 95- 

to Loch Hourn, 112-133 
from Lerwick to Bergen, 134- 

among the Shetland Islands, 174- 


Ben Hope, 20, 21 
Ben Nevis, ascent of, before days 
of road and Observatory, 74-83 
Bergen, 158-171 

Athenaeum, Museum, and Art 

Union, 164-167 
Cathedral, 167-169 
Leper Hospital, 163 
run from Bergen to Lerwick in 

fifty-one hours, 172 
Burgh of Brindister, about 5 miles 
south-west of Lerwick, descrip- 
tion of, 199-201 
Bondhus glacier, Morauger Fiord, 

Cawdop Castle, 59-61 

Cleikum Loch and Island fort in 

Shetland, 190, 191 
Connel Ferry and Rapids, dangers 

of, 107, 108 
Cromarty Firth and " Soutars of 

Cromarty," 57, 58 

Description of the yacht Spray, 

4, 5 
Dunollie Castle, 90, 91 

Dunstaffnage Castle, 89, 90 
Dwarfie Stone, Hoy Head, and Old 
Man of Hoy, 9, 15 

Eilean Finnan, or Island of St. 

Finnan in Loch Shiel, 43, 44 
Elgin, 54, 55 
Emboli, Loch, 16-18 

five days' detention in, owing to 
stress of weather, 21, 22 

Fall of Foyers, 70-72 

Fetlar, Island of, and Burgh Hall, 
residence of Sir Arthur Nichol- 
son, 203, 204 

Fish-market, Bergen, 161-163 

Flugga Stack and Lighthouse in 
Unst, the northernmost light- 
house in the British Isles, 209, 

Ghastly story told by our pilot 
about his escape from the 
death-cart during an outbreak 
of cholera in Riga, 118-120 

Glenelg, 35 

Glomack, Falls of, 34, 35 

Gordonstown and Sir Robert Gordon, 
53, 54 

Handa, Island of, 26 

Harald Harfagre and the Princess 

Gida, 176 
Hardanger Fiord and branches, 142- 

Hope Locli and River, 18-20 

fishing in the loch ([and river, 

18, 19 
Hoy, Hill of, 9 



Kirkwall, the capital of the 

Orkneys, 10 
Cathedral of St. Magnus, 10, 11 
Earl Patrick's Palace, 10, 11 
Kyi. 'akin, village of, 33, 3 1 

Lerwick town and harbour, 188 
Links of Sumburgh, scene of a 

desperate battle between Shet- 

landers and men of Lewis, 180- 

Loch Duich, and Eilean Donan 

Castle, 34, 35 
Loch Etive, 95-111 
Loch Hourn, 112-123 

a great number of fish in tipper 

Loch Hourn, 122, 123 
Loch Hourn and Ben Screel, 35, 36 
Loch Leven and Glencoe, 86-88 
Loch Shiel, beauty and grandeur of 

its scenery, 38-40 
details of fishing in, for several 

seasons, 40-48 
Loch Sunart, 37, 38 
Loch Swin and Castle Swin, 92, 93 
Loch Seaforth in the Lewis, a 

spacious and splendid harbour, 

Lochs of Tingwall and green island 

in northern loch where tings 

or courts of law used to meet, 

191, 192 
in Tingwall Lochs good trout 

fishing, 193 

Maree Loch, description of, 26-28 

Mountains, long and picturesque 

range of, extending from Ben 

Dearg, a few miles south of 

Cape Wrath, to Loch Ewe, 25 

Norwegian pilots, 137, 138, 140- 
ponies, sure-footedness and endur- 
ance of, 151, 152 
Noss Head, 136 

excursion to, from Lerwick, 197- 

OYSTERS, former plenty and cheap- 
ness of, in Orkney, 11-14 
depletion of the beds, 11, 12 

Oysters, importance of restoring ami 
protecting them, 12-14 

PLEASURES and advantages of a 
yacht cruise in summer to the 
northern Highlands and Islands 
of Scotland, 1-4 

Portree, town and harbour of. 28, 

SCALLOWAY Castle, a grand old 
ruin, 193 
tall memorial stone between Ting- 
wall Lochs and the Castle, 193 
legend with regard to it, 19:',, 

built by the infamous Earl Patrick 
in 1600, description of it, 194, 

Shetland Islands, a yacht cruise 
among, 174-212 

Shetland and Orkney Islands for 
several hundred years under the 
Norwegian Crown, 176, 177 

Shetland fishermen, a third of the 
adult male population, 195, 
masonic fraternities, influence of, 
in Shetland, 196, 197 

Shetlanders in manners, domestic 
habits, language, and appear- 
ance still bear traces of their 
Scandinavian descent, 177, 178 

Similarity of the Nuraghe of Sar- 
dinia in external appearance to 
the Burgh of Mousa, 184 

Sligachan Inn and Sgurr nanGillean, 
32, 33 

Small rocky island at foot of Ardna- 
murchan Point, legend regard- 
it, 115, 116 

Smowe Cave, 22-24 

Sound of Bressay and Ord of Bressay, 

Sound of Mousa and Burgh of Mousa, 

Sound of Sleat, Blaven, and the 
Coolins, 36 

Spynie Castle, 55-57 

Stenness, Loch of, 7 
circle of, 7 
three tall standing stones of, 9 



S torn way, 129 

castle and grounds, 129-131 
splendid view from the highest 
point in the castle grounds, 
Storr Hill and Needle of Storr, 30-32 
Stromness town and bay, 6, 7 
Sumburgh Head and Roost, 179, 

Tobermory, town and Bay of, 37 

Unicorn rock, a dangerous obstruc- 
tion in the northern entrance 
to Bressay Sound, 189, 190 

so-called from the loss on it of 
the Unicorn, the vessel in 
which Kirkaldy of Grange was 
pursuing the fugitive Earl of 
Both well, 189, 190 
Unst Island, the most northern and 
one of the largest of the Shet- 
land Isles, 206 

Balta Sound, Unst, in a spacious 
and land-locked harbour, 204, 

Buness House in Unst from which 
the French philosopher Biot, in 
1817, carried on a series of ex- 
periments for determining the 
length of the seconds pendulum, 

Burra Fiord, Saxafiord, and Scaw 
Roost, in Unst, 209 

chromate of iron largely wrought 
in Unst, 207 

good trout-fishing in above-named 
lochs, 204 

Unst, Hielaburn, or burn of health, 
in Unst, 206, 207 
Loch of Cliff in Unst, largest 
sheet of fresh -water in Shet- 
land, excellent fishing in, 208, 
number of snipe and golden 

plover in, 205 
walk across from Uya Sound to 

Balta Sound, 204-206 
Watley Loch, Belmont Loch, and 
ruins of Mouness Castle, 204, 
Upper Loch Hourn, magnificence of 
the scenery around it, 120-123 
Urquhart Glen and Castle, 62-65 
"Castle Urquhart visited," a 
serio-comic poem, 66-70 
Uya Sound or harbour between 
Unst and Uya Island, 204 


Vik, 146, 147 

yacht nearly driven ashore 
sudden storm at Vik, 156 
from Vik to Bergen, 156-158 
Voring Foss, excursion to, 148-153 
Saeters' or shepherds' huts near 

152, 153 
description of the waterfall, 153 

Waterfalls on the Hardanger 

Fiord, 143 
Whalsey Island, belonging to Mr. 

Bruce of Simbister, one of the 

farthest descended proprietors 

in Shetland, 203 
Wrath, Cape, 24, 25 


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